SJ Lafayette Holds off Excelsior Springs

By Kaleb Huffman PrepsKC Staff Writer
Posted: October 21, 2017 - 2:03 AM

After last season's double-overtime thriller opened district play for St. Joseph Lafayette and Excelsior Springs, both schools met on the gridiron for round-two at Alumni Stadium in St. Joseph and provided the fans in attendance another classic.

Just like in last season's game, this game came down to the final-play in a 35-34 victory for St. Joseph Lafayette Fighting Irish -their second-straight district triumph over the Excelsior Springs Tigers. This time, no overtime was needed, just a stop on a two-point play that would have given Excelsior Springs (7-3) the lead in the closing seconds.

"We knew from last-year they were going for two,” Fighting Irish coach Bart Hardy said. “The veer is tough to stop and they do a great-job teaching it.  "We told the guys' to enjoy the victory. We'll get film up and get back to business on Monday."

St. Joseph Lafayette (8-2) held a 35-14 lead heading into the fourth-quarter, but thanks to a number of personal fouls on the Irish, the Tigers' found themselves knocking on the door to open the quarter. On the first-play of the quarter Tigers' senior quarterback Peyton Soria plunged across the goal-line for his second rushing score of the evening. Following the extra-point, the Tigers' were down 35-21 with 11:55 remaining.

After a quick-stop the Tigers' got the ball back and capitalized on a 4-minute drive on Soria's second rushing score of the quarter, this time from six yards away, closing the Tigers' gap to 35-28. Soria finished the game with 4 rushing TD's.

With the game-on-the-line the Tigers' defense kept the Fighting Irish out the end zone forcing a pair of incomplete passes from the Fighting Irish's senior quarterback Diego Bernard on third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal. Bernard finished the game with 97 yards rushing on 10 totes and 10-18 through the air for 189 yards and a score.

The Tigers' regained possession of the ball on their own 25-yard line deep in the fourth-quarter.

Facing a third and 17, Soria found senior Landon Seely for a 59-yard gain to the Fighting Irish's three-yard-line. On second-and-goal Soria plunged in trimming the Tigers' deficit to 35-34 with 33 seconds left on the clock.

Excelsior Springs coach Mark Faubion decided to go for the win, by calling Soria's number one-more-time for a two-point conversion. This time the Fighting Irish, were up to the task, stopping Soria just short of the goal keeping the Fighting Irish ahead 35-34 where they would stay after recovering the ensuing onside-kick.

"We had the entire-momentum right there, after making the stop and scoring the touchdown," Faubion said. "The guys came over to the sideling, begging for two and we had the momentum. With Peyton (Soria) and those guys', I will take my chances getting three yards, most of the time."

The Fighting Irish, jumped out to the early-lead in the first-half, thanks to 4 TD's from senior running back Trey Washington. He finished the game with 4 scores on 14 totes for 102 yards.

Washington scored the Fighting Irish's second score, after receiving a pitch from senior receiver Bradyan Cox after Cox hauled in a Bernard pass, he pitched it to Washington, who took the ball in the final 10 yards for a 14-0 Fighting Irish lead.

"On the hook n' ladder, I came a little late, but Braydan (Cox) saw me for the little pitch. I caught it and I took it to the house," Washington said. "We just have to work-hard and condition to get ready for next week."

St. Joseph Lafayette, advances to the semifinals of MSHSAA Class 4 District 8 and a matchup at 7 p.m. next Friday with No. 1 seed Kearney on the road.