Friday night the Lancers had their work cut out for them, playing Lutheran North [0-2] from Missouri, who was coming off a 12-1 season. Last year the Crusaders had lost in the state semi-finals to 7-time state champs Lamar 7-6.
Lutheran North is a private co-ed school from the St. Louis area that has an enrollment of only 280 students, but their football team is loaded.
The Crusaders are ranked #2 in Missouri for small schools, and return a huge offensive line that had produced three 1,000-yard rushers last year. Across the front they go 330, 275, 300,260, and 260. Four players on the roster have division I offers waiting for them.
The game started in the rain after a 15-minute delay for lightning that was spotted during warm up. The Crusaders were determined to get the game in despite bad weather conditions. Their plans were to get right on their bus after the game and to travel back home to Missouri.
After a holding call on the Crusaders they started their first possession on their 15-yard line. After acquiring one 1st down they punted from their 24. On La Salle's second play from scrimmage, MJ Horton hit Kevin Swift on a pass down the sidelines, going for 42 yards and leading to a Jake Seibert 25-yard field goal. Jake was kicking with a broken wrist with what appeared to be a plastic bag around it to keep the protection from getting wet. With 6:02 to go in the quarter, the Lancers led 3-0.
Early into the second quarter, as it continued to rain, lack of turnovers and field position became very important. On Lutheran North's next possession La Salle caught a break. The Crusaders fumbled and the Lancers recovered on North's 47.
After 9 plays La Salle settled for a 37-yard field goal by Seibert. As the 1st quarter ended the Lancers led 6-0.
Neither team could get anything going in the second quarter. The score at the half remained La Salle 6, Lutheran North 0. La Salle had 96 total yards compared to 62 for Lutheran North. Lancers' sophomore Jaylen Johnson led all tacklers with 4 unassisted and 2 assisted tackles. Jared Uran added 3 unassisted and 4 assisted. Kevin Swift had two catches for 50-yards.
Both teams played the game close to the vest. It became clear to both teams, because of the weather, that passing would be difficult and they needed to take care of the ball. In the first 7 minutes of the second half the Lancers would turn the ball over twice. The second proved costly.
Isaia Azubuike, who was held to 18 yards on 10 carries in the 1st half, got going. From the Lancers' 20 he raced to the Lancers' 2 and then scored on the following play.
On the extra point the Crusaders shifted part of their line wide to the left and then attempted a sneak up the middle. The Lancers stopped them short of the goal line. The Crusaders had tied the Lancers at 6 with 4:58 to go in the quarter. Apparently North did not trust their kicking game and later you would see why.
On North's 1st possession of the 4th quarter they were at it again. Starting at their 20, Azubuike ran for 57 yards for the 1st down. On 4th and 3 from the Lancers 18 yard line the Crusaders spurned a 35-yard field goal and went for it. Azubuike got the call, darting left and right for the TD. With 7:47 to go in the game Lutheran North led 12-6. This time they attempted the extra point with the ball striking the crossbar and falling short.
The Lancers had the work cut out for them. On a rainy night on a wet field they were going to have to come up with their first TD of the evening. With about 4 minutes remaining in the game Jaylen Johnson intercepted a Jordan Smith pass. MJ Horton then hooked up with Kevin Swift for a TD, knotting the score at 12. Kevin Seibert's extra point split the uprights, giving the Lancers a 13-12 lead with 3:06 remaining in the game.
The Crusaders couldn't do anything on their next drive. The Lancers took a knee and La Salle had survived 13-12.
La Salle ended up with 217 yards compared to the Crusaders' 155. MJ Horton was 7/16 for 98 yards and added 55 yards rushing. Kevin Swift had 4 catches for 86 yards. Drew Nieman averaged a crucial 38 yards a kick.
Jarred Uran led all tacklers with 4 unassisted and 7 assisted tackles followed by Brody Ingle with 4 solos and 6 assisted.
The Lancers' next game is Friday in Kentucky, at Scott Co., who last week defeated Moeller 10-7.