SJ Lafayette grinds past North Kansas City

By Bill Knust PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: August 20, 2016 - 11:41 PM

St. Joseph Lafayette coach Bart Hardy said his team would have some time to figure some things out on Friday night. With play suspended late in the third quarter, Hardy and his coaching staff definitely found something.

The Irish rebounded once play resumed to take a 28-24 victory against North Kansas City on Saturday, August 20, at North Kansas City District Football Stadium.

Trey Washington wasted no time erasing the 16-14 deficit, intercepting North Kansas City quarterback John Joe Sanchez on the third play of the day and taking it 32 yards for the score.

Washington said his coaches told him to spy the No. 2 receiver.

“When I watched him, I saw him cut,” Washington said. “I saw my opportunity and my window. I just took it. I saw a lot of field after that.”

The Irish added to their lead midway through the fourth quarter when quarterback Gavin Brown found quarterback Diego Bernard, who lined up at receiver in the goal line package, for an 8-yard score. Brown put the ball in the corner of the end zone and Bernard made a leaping, acrobatic catch and managed to get one foot down to make the score 28-16 after Nolan Hamm’s extra point.

“There is more than one guy on this team who can make plays,” Hardy said. “We just have to keep finding ways to get everyone the ball.”

North Kansas City battled back to make the score 28-24, and had a chance to win the game with just over a minute remaining, but the Irish defense held its ground, forcing incomplete passes on third and fourth down to preserve the victory.

Hardy said he was proud of the way his kids focused coming back after the game was suspended the night before.

“We’ve been in this position before where you have a rainout, and we just don’t show up on the second day,” Hardy said. “We challenged them to come out, focus and finish the job. And, I am going to account a lot of it to the sandwiches we got them before the game. I put that on Coach (Jason) Guthery and the coaching staff.”

Lafayette actually struck first in the contest when Bernard hooked up with receiver Braydan Cox on a backside post for a 65-yard score. The Irish capitalized on a fumble recovery from defensive lineman Xavior McClain and needed just three plays to find paydirt.

However, the Irish’s mistakes allowed the Hornets to reel off 16 straight points.

Hornets’ running back Damon Whitmill scored two touchdowns, one following a Bernard interception, and has already tallied 131 yards on 20 carries.

North Kansas City got on the scoreboard following a 65-yard punt, pinning the Irish inside their own 20-yard line. That was immediately followed by an intentional grounding from Bernard, and then Bernard barely got rid of the ball from his own end zone on the ensuing play. When the punt snap came low to Bernard on fourth down he threw the ball out of the end zone to take the safety.

“I thought we did some good things,” Hornets coach Leon Douglas said. “I thought we relaxed at times and made some mistakes.”

One big moment of relaxation let the Irish back into the ballgame late in the first half. Washington ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run on third and 12 with 33.6 seconds remaining in the half. It gave the Irish some much-needed momentum heading into halftime.