WEST LAFAYETTE — In their second go at it in three weeks, the Lewis Cass Kings traveled to West Lafayette in attempt to exact some revenge against the Red Devils. The Kings did that and a bit more with a huge 49-42 victory heading into the tournament.
The Kings weren’t the least bit concerned despite the lopsided loss they took just a couple weeks ago – their only loss of the season – to the hands of the West Lafayette Red Devils, and they refused to back down from the opening snap of the game in what was the Hoosier Conference championship game.
The Kings (8-1) took the ball first Friday night, and though they were initially successful getting two quick first downs in the first four plays of the drive, it stalled out and the Kings were forced to punt. However, in similar fashion, the Red Devils (7-2) were back to prove their first meeting with the Kings was no fluke.
Quarterback Kyle Adams led the Red Devils down the field on 5-of-5 passing, aided by a couple of debilitating penalties by the Kings, and put the first points on the board of the night with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Blankman putting West Lafayette up 7-0 with 5:45 to go in the first quarter.
The Kings bounced back quickly, though, with a scoring drive of their own. The Kings were moving the ball, but modestly, when the Kings broke out the ole hook-and-ladder stunning the Red Devils defense with their first score of the night. The pass from Isaac Chambers to Joey Humphrey traveled 8 yards, then Humphrey pitched the ball to Eurit who screamed down the sideline for the final 60 yards into the end zone. The Kings were unable to convert the 2-point try, and still trailed 7-6 very early on.
Most teams go on methodical drives primarily through the running game, but the Red Devils do it through the air little by little with the big-play threat always looming. West Lafayette chewed up 73 yards on 12 plays, and finished it off with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Adams to J.T. Downey giving them the 14-6 advantage on the first play of the second quarter.
But the Kings are nothing if not just as dangerous in either aspect of the offense, and Gabe Eurit provided another spark for Lewis Cass with an 80-yard touchdown run on their first play of the following drive. Another failed 2-point attempt left the score at 14-12 in the Red Devils’ favor.
The Kings’ defense was truly something to behold on this Friday night, though, as well. Defensive lineman Eric Bird was a man on a mission with multiple sacks and more tackles for loss than I could count. He and the Kings stacked up the West Lafayette rushing attack through the majority of the game allowing a total of only 89 rushing yards on the entire night.
Bird and the Kings defense forced consecutive punts from the vaunted West Lafayette offense, and the Kings took the lead in between defensive stands with a 9-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Caden Zeck 8-yard touchdown run. A leaping 2-point conversion gave the Kings the 20-14 lead.
The Kings were forced off the field on just three plays, for the first and only time of the night on their following possession, and the Red Devils took their opportunity to get some late points in the first half. Given good field position following a Kings’ punt from deep in their own territory, Adams hit brother Corey Adams on a 26-yard touchdown pass giving West Lafayette the lead 21-20 with just seconds to go in the first half of play.
The Red Devils took the second-half kickoff and knew they had to take every opportunity to get points, and they were successful right away in doing just that.
West Lafayette marched down the field getting chunk plays of 13 and 25 yards in their first two plays of the drive, then the Adams connection put another touchdown on the board on a 60-yard catch and run giving the Red Devils the 28-20 lead with 10:30 to go in the third quarter.
This one was not for the faint of heart.
After controlling the West Lafayette defense with the ground game, Lewis Cass attempted to adjust to possible West Lafayette adjustments by going to the air on their first possession of the second half. The Red Devils sacked Chambers twice in consecutive plays and the Kings were forced to punt. But all wouldn’t be lost, and the precedent had been set.
And the Kings’ defense stepped up to give the offense the second chance they needed to get back on a roll. On the first play of the Red Devils’ next possession, Adams went across the middle of the field, and Zeck stepped in front of the receiver for the interception. The Kings took over on their own 28 yard line.
The Kings’ offense took their mulligan and made the most of it by working their way down the field on a very deliberate and calculated 72-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard catch-and-run from Chambers to Joey Humphrey. Just like that it was all tied up at 28 apiece.
The Kings’ defense wasn’t finished helping out, and this time they wanted to put some points on the board. Following one of eight negative plays forced by the Kings’ defense, Adams threw incomplete to Corey Adams on second down. The Red Devils’ pass catchers began to struggle to secure their quarterback’s throws, and Adams’ next attempt popped out of Melchi’s hands and into Easton Good’s hands, and he sprinted 40 yards down the sideline for the pick-six.
With Lewis Cass now up 35-28, the two teams just began to trade haymakers like two super heavyweight boxers with no technique and a ton of knockout power. Everyone was on the edge of their seat for the duration of this fantastic high school football game.
West Lafayette tied things back up on the arm of Adams, and a few more costly Kings’ penalties, going 5-for-5 passing and finalizing the possession with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Truitt. Then the Kings swung back by using the Red Devils’ own aggression against them.
Chambers looked out in the flat to Eurit, faked the pass as Humphrey got in between the second and third levels of the West Lafayette defense and Chambers hit him in stride as he raced to the end zone dragging a Red Devils’ defender in with him, giving the Kings the 42-35 lead.
A counter punch from this West Lafayette offense was to be expected as they went back to their air attack on 8 of their 10 plays on the drive, but it was Blankman punching it in from two yards out that tied the game back up at 42-42 with just over 7 minutes remaining.
Then the knockout punch came. The Kings responded and chewed up 80 yards, taking over 5 minutes off the clock, wearing down the Red Devils’ defense to get the final score of the night. Fittingly, Eurit capped off the drive – featuring a 26-yard Chambers-to-Good connection on fourth-and-nine – with a 1-yard touchdown dive putting the Kings up 49-42 with two minutes to play.
Adams led his Red Devils back down the field hoping to answer and send this one into overtime, but following a big 25-yard gain on a pass to Cannon Melchi, Adams went to the well one too many times. On his next attempt Zeck picked off Adams again, and with one Lewis Cass first down, and some kneel downs, that was all she wrote in this one.
Coach Jeff Phillips was elated with performances on both sides of the ball.
“We had the right attitude and our seniors really stepped up and deserved this win. They’ve worked really hard and they got the job done for us tonight. Up front we got good pressure on their quarterback this time around, and we just made them earn it a little bit more than the first time around. Offensively, in contrast to our first matchup with West Lafayette, we just finished drives tonight and we took care of the ball.”
Eric Bird, who was in the Red Devils’ backfield all night long knew his role very clearly.
“We watched a lot of film and we knew some things to key on in order to get some stops. Once they let me through the line, I knew the fullback was coming and I just had to go hunting. Our guys all stepped up tonight."
Gabe Eurit stated that their first meeting left a big chip on the team’s shoulder.
“We knew we could move the ball against them from our last game against them. Tonight we continued to ground-and-pound them, and our line stepped up and we just took our time knowing some big plays would come.”
Adams was 31-of-42 passing with 321 passing yards and 5 touchdowns through the air for the Red Devils. Blankman added 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Corey Adams put up 122 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Kings were led by Chambers, who went 14-of-18 passing with 232 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air, while Eurit led the Lewis Cass ground attack with 245 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 28 carries.