Varnado comes up short in Friday’s District 8-1A opener

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By Chris Singleton
Houma Courier

Varnado was just over two minutes away from winning its first football game of the season during Friday’s District 8-1A showdown against Covenant Christian Academy.
Varnado trailed by 21 points earlier in the game but used a strong rally in the second half to take a three-point lead with 2:14 left on a 9-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Peters.
Just when it looked like the Wildcats would prevail, the Lions got key plays from three senior athletes to storm back late in a 39-30 win.
Here is the sequence after Peters’ touchdown run put the Wildcats up 30-27 with 2:14 left.
On the ensuing kickoff, CCA senior running back Channing Holloway returned it 66 yards down to the Varnado 22-yard line. Just one play later, CCA senior running back Anthony Ruffin sprinted 22-yards up the middle for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but CCA held a 33-30 advantage with 1:51 left.
Varnado had one final possession to take the lead. Quarterback Kim McGowan hit receiver Caleb Allen on passes of 31 and 7 yards, respectively, to set up second-and-4 from the Lions’ 31.
McGowan attempted a deep pass on the next play, but it was under thrown right into the hands of CCA senior quarterback/defensive back Nicholas Lagendyk, who returned the interception 90 yards for a touchdown that put the Lions up for good at 39-30 with 37 seconds left to play.
It was a valiant effort for Varnado (0-5 overall, 0-1 in district) but just short. The Wildcats trailed 27-6 at one point in second quarter.
“Our kids played hard, but at the same time, it’s not good enough,” Varnado coach Anthony Hicks said. “We’re the best 0-5 team probably in 1A.”
Hicks said they had a chance late but couldn’t make the play before Lagendyk’s interception.
“We got to throw the ball deeper than that,” Hicks said. “The cornerback came back to the ball. It was a good play call. We had them 1-on-1. We had the right where we wanted but the quarterback got to throw the ball out there.”
Covenant Christian coach Randy Boquet praised both teams for fighting hard on Friday.
“The kids showed a tremendous amount of heart and character (Friday) night,” Boquet said. “I’m extremely proud of how hard they fought back. All credit in the world goes to Coach Hicks and his team. They came out in the second half and they really showed up and played and gave us everything that wanted. They had us on the ropes, but I told the kids champions find a way to win and that’s what we did tonight. I’m extremely proud of the guts and the effort to find a way to win.”
Covenant Christian (5-1 overall, 1-0 in district) scored early and often in the first quarter.
Lions senior running back Channing Holloway got it started when he scrambled 26 yards for a touchdown. Holloway dragged three defenders into the end zone for the final 10 yards on the score, putting the Lions ahead 7-0 after an extra point from Malachi Ayo with 6:37 left in the first quarter.
Varnado answered back when quarterback Kim McGowan Jr. hit Caleb Allen on a 17-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion try was no good, keeping CCA in the lead at 7-6 with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
Covenant Christian scored its second touchdown of the quarter when quarterback Nicholas Lagendyk connected with tight end Zach Boquet on a 37-yard touchdown pass on third down to extend the lead to 14-6 with 1:55 left in the first quarter.
The Lions added to their lead when Anthony Ruffin gashed the Wildcats’ defense on a 53-yard touchdown run. Ruffin appeared to go down during the run, but stayed on his feet and scrambled the rest of the way to make it 20-6 (two-point attempt failed) with 6.4 seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, penalties negated two straight Lions touchdowns, but they managed to finally punch it in it on third down when Lagendyk tossed a short screen pass to Holloway, who dodged several tacklers before breaking loose on a 26-yard touchdown to extend it to 27-6 CCA with 8:17 left in the half.
CCA got an interception from Michael DeCou in the second quarter.
Varnado scored right before halftime when McGowan sprinted 48 yards for a touchdown with 3:07 left in the second quarter. Korterrius Mingo ran in the two-point conversion attempt make it a 27-14 score.
Varnado dominated most of the second half, getting a 44-yard touchdown pass from McGowan to Allen to make it 27-20 with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
Varnado’s defense got a safety when defensive lineman Brandon Lee tackled a CCA runner in the end zone to make it 27-22 with 4:07 to go in the third quarter.
Varnado threatened to go up in the third quarter by driving to the Lions’ 1 yard line, but CCA’s defense stood tall with three straight stops to force a turnover on downs with 53.3 seconds left.
McGowan completed 13-of-23 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Korterrius Mingo rushed 15 times for 108 yards.
Covenant Christian had 261 total yards, getting 110 rushing yards on 13 carries from Ruffin and 79 rushing yards on 13 carries and two scores from Holloway.
Varnado plays St. Martin’s Episcopal on the road Friday.