For the fourth time in two years, Lafayette Christian and St. Thomas More did battle for the Division II Select State Championship. After falling behind 14-0, STM outscored the Knights 35-7 to take the game over and capture another state title with a 35-21 victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
LCA started the game, but on 2nd down, a tip-drill interception from Gavin Duplechin gave the Cougars the football in great field position. However, the Knights’ defense forced a turnover on downs to get the football right back in the hands of Ju’Juan Johnson.
On the next possession, LCA turned it over on downs as well after eight plays. STM would then commit their first turnover of the game on second down when Sam Altmann was picked off by Cooper Martin to put the Knights back in control ad this time, Johnson would lead a seven-play, 79-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown run from the LSU commit to make it 7-0 LCA with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.
STM’s offense then got rolling on the offensive side, going 51 yards in nine plays before Brendan Bourque missed a 34-yard field goal that kept the Cougars off the board. LCA would capitalize on the good field position with a 21-yard touchdown run from Johnson to put the Knights ahead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
After a great kickoff return from STM, the offense got back into field goal range early in the second quarter, but Bourque’s kick collided with the upright for the second time and the Cougars were denied yet again.
LCA then had a 13-play drive that stalled with a turnover on downs to allow STM to get back in the contest and they would, going 70 yards in 11 plays before John Luke St. Pierre punched it in to make it 14-7 with less than a minute remaining in the half.
Johnson got the ball back before the half and moved the Knights deep into STM territory, but he was picked off by Brody Latiolais at the STM 20-yard line and the junior linebacker returned it 80 yards to tie the game on the final play of the first half.
STM forced a turnover on downs on LCA’s first drive of the second half but quickly had to punt it away themselves. On first down, Johnson showed off his incredible athletic ability, taking off down the sidelines for 56 yards after evading multiple defenders. On the very next play, Jalen Noel ran for no gain and was seen punching STM’s Hayden Hernandez after the play and Noel was disqualified, a huge blow to the Knights offense. Three plays later, Johnson found the endzone for the third time today on a five-yard rush to make it 21-14 with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter.
The Cougars then went on a six-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a John Luke St. Pierre touchdown to tie the game at 21 late in the third. LCA went down the field once again but was denied on fourth down to give the ball back to the Cougars at the end of the third quarter.
With 7:40 remaining in the game, Sam Altmann found the endzone to put STM ahead 28-21. Then, after a big defensive stop and a great punt return from Landon Strother, Huthc Swilley found the endzone from five yards out to make it 35-21 late in the game as the Cougars were able to keep LCA scoreless in the final 17 minutes of the game on their way to back-to-back state titles.
BIG NUMBER: 28
STM outscored LCA 35-7 from the end of the first quarter on to take down the Knights 35-21 and capture the state title.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: John-Luke St. Pierre
The senior running back was a big difference maker, getting 70 yards on the ground with a pair of touchdowns on his way to being named MVP for the Cougars.