BATON ROUGE – After winning 28 consecutive games and three consecutive state championships, the bar has been set incredibly high for Edna Karr.
The 2019 season has been a reality check in some ways for the Cougars’ dynasty. Reality hit them squarely in the mouth on Friday night at Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium.
Catholic High, another one of the state’s premier programs, dominated Karr to the tune of a 47-12 blowout.
It didn’t start out that way as both teams scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions.
Karr started with a 12-play, 81 yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock. Leonte Richardson’s two yard touchdown put the Cougars up 6-0. The extra point was no good.
Catholic responded by setting the tone on the ground. On their seven-play, 72 yard drive, every play was a run. Josh Parker scored the first of his two touchdowns on a six yard run.
Leonard Kelly struck back quickly, using his right arm to help the Cougars retake the lead. He went 6-of-7 for 80 yards, capping the drive with a 12 yard strike to Darrell Hills. Another missed extra point left the score at 12-7, Karr.
However, Catholic took the lead for good on their next drive. It took less than two minutes for the Bears to get back into the end zone. Backup quarterback Landon O’Connor ran it in from 11 yards out to make it 14-12.
Gabe Fertitta and his team never looked back, adding two more touchdowns before halftime. Jackson Thomas found Braelen Morgan for a seven yard TD to push the lead to eight.
Then, with Karr driving inside the Bears’ 30 yard line, Michael Cerniauskas intercepted Kelly’s errant pass and worked his way down the left sideline for a 98-yard return for the touchdown.
Catholic walked into the locker room with a 27-12 lead. Karr had come back from similar deficits before, so there was hope that they could do so once again.
Parker crushed those hopes on the first play of the second half. He took a handoff at his own 44 and exploded up the middle for a 56-yard touchdown run, and a 34-12.
Kelly was benched, but the offense got no better for Karr.
The Bears were simply the more physical team. Their offensive line opened holes all night for the Catholic running attack.
Defensively, they never allowed the Cougars to find a rhythm. After shutting down Karr’s running game, Catholic left the Cougars’ high octane offense in need of a tuneup.
Karr’s 12 points were its lowest output since a 34-7 loss to St. Paul’s in Sept. of 2015.
Catholic outrushed Karr 305-61 and scored five touchdowns on the ground.
Parker was the primary sledgehammer, carrying the ball 15 times for 167 yards and two scores. Thomas was the wild card, turning potential losses into great runs.
The Bears (4-0) improved to 3-0 all-time against the Cougars. Catholic has outscored Karr 132-34 in those games.
The Cougars fall to 2-2, already with more losses this season than in the last three combined.
All in all, it was one of the most surprising outcomes of the still young high school season.
In all likelihood, both teams will be among those standing when state championships are decided. However, their paths will be very different.
Catholic will be trying to maintain the high level of play its shown over its first four games. Karr, on the other hand, is trying to find its way.
Catholic goes on the road to face St. Thomas More next week, while Karr has the week off before they go to Wossman on Oct. 11.