By BRET H. MCCORMICK, Journal Sports
Peabody picked off Lafayette Christian star quarterback Ju’Juan Johnson three times at the goal line, but the Warhorses didn’t have enough firepower to score with the Knights as they fell 54-20 in the second round of the Division II Select playoffs Friday night.
LCA jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter as Johnson, an LSU commitment, tossed two touchdown passes, including a 99-yarder to Brennan Walker, Jalen Noel scored an 8-yard touchdown run and the Knights got a defensive safety.
The score could have been worse, but TJ Hullaby made a leaping interception of a Johnson pass at the 2-yard line. Hullaby made a second interception at the goal line on the first play of the second quarter, and Dartavin Depass picked off Johnson at the 1-yard line on the Knights’ next possession.
The Knights (9-2) extended their lead to 41-8 at halftime courtesy of a 30-yard punt return by Walker, a 14-yard TD pass from Johnson to Walker and a 30-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Peabody (7-5) got on the board when junior quarterback Larry Roberts III connected with Hullaby on a 52-yard touchdown with 4:39 left in the half.
Peabody second-year coach Harry Coleman said the Warhorses knew they faced a “tall task” against a Knights team that finished as state runner-up two years in a row.
“The coaching staff knew that going in that we had to play a nearly perfect game,” Coleman said. “That team just lost in the high school championship game a year ago and brought most of the team back, a seasoned team. And Ju’Ju Johnson, he’s different.”
Noel’s second TD run of the game, a 1-yarder to end the Knights’ first drive of the second half, pushed the LCA lead to 47-8, and Trey Parker ended the Knights’ scoring with a 7-yard TD run in the third quarter.
The Warhorses added two late touchdowns when Roberts found a wide-open Depass for a 93-yard score in the third quarter and hit Cedric Allen Jr. for a 22-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Roberts completed 8 of 21 passes in the game for 235 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Depass led the way with two catches for 120 yards and a score, while Depass and Nate Francis combined for 100 rushing yards in the game.
Coleman turned the Warhorses around from an 0-10 season before he arrived to winning a playoff game in his second season. Although they lose a strong senior class, Coleman said they have a number of pieces returning to build off a strong 2023 season.
“The standard has been set,” Coleman said.
PAUL’S 38, TIOGA 14
St. Paul’s pitched a second-half shutout and scored 31 unanswered points Friday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the Division I Select playoffs.
Tioga struck first on the opening drive by going 80 yards on seven plays for a 7-0 lead. Christian Iles had the big play on the drive with a 39-yard run, and sophomore quarterback Cace Malone called his own number the next two plays, finishing the drive with a 16-yard TD.
After St. Paul’s tied the game with a 4-yard touchdown run by Cody Corales, the Indians took their second lead of the game. Adams found some running room off the right side for a 28-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Indians, that would be the last time they found the end zone. St. Paul’s added a 41-yard field goal by Drew Talley and then a 4-yard Corales TD run with 1:01 left in the first half to take a 17-14 lead.
The seventh-seeded Wolves (10-1) scored on all three of their first-half possessions and added three touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half.
Ben Buisson scored a 35-yard TD on the Wolves’ opening possession of the second half, Troy Willis added an 18-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and Corales capped the scoring with an 18-yard TD run, his third of the game.
Corales led the Wolves with 98 rushing yards on 15 carries as St. Paul’s racked up 252 rushing yards in the game.
Tioga (9-3) was led by Adams’ 68 rushing yards on 15 carries. Malone ran for 39 yards and completed 12 of 15 passes for 102 yards.
CALVARY BAPTIST 49, MENARD 0
Abram Wardell passed for 204 yards and three touchdowns as No. 2 Calvary (11-0) knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs in the Division III Select second round.
The No. 15 Eagles (8-4) got off to a great start, getting a fourth-down stop at the 10-yard line on the opening drive to keep Calvary out of the end zone, and also stopping the Cavaliers on their third drive of the game.
But Calvary hit some big plays, including 21-yard and 23-yard TD runs by five-star running back James Simon, a 17-yard TD pass from Wardell to senior Jay Simon and a 72-yard double pass from Kolby Thomas to Aubrey Hermes.
The Cavs added three more second-half scores – a punt blocked by Cole Miller that was recovered in the end zone by David Weeks and Wardell TD passes to Chris Jackson (19 yards) and Thomas (5 yards).
The Eagles got just one first down in the fourth quarter on a penalty, and they were held to just 10 yards of offense.
“Obviously, this is a great team right here,” Menard coach David Perkins said. “We have nothing to hang our heads about.”