Lutcher’s normally prolific offense was shut down by Karr’s defense, ending the Bulldogs’ quest for a possible seventh state title in a 20-7 loss in the Class 4A semifinals Friday night at Behrman Stadium in Algiers.
The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Lutcher, which ended its season 12-2. Karr, 11-3, advances to the state championship game next Friday against Neville in the Superdome. The Tigers defeated Breaux Bridge 16-7.
Despite a lack of offense, the Bulldogs only trailed 13-7 late in the third quarter until a controversial play allowed Karr to secure the victory.
A rolling Lutcher punt appeared to graze the Bulldogs’ Blake Roussel near midfield. Thinking the play dead, the Bulldogs started to walk off the field. Karr punt returner Jarrell Bennett picked up the ball and raced for a touchdown, putting the Cougars on top 20-7.
“I don’t really want to say anything until I review the film. But my kids were swearing to me that they touched the ball,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “All I wanted was an explanation from the official, which I never got. One official told me they never blew the whistle. I wanted to know why, because the kids said they touched it. It’s unfortunate in a state semifinal game that it came down to that.”
Bennett said he never heard a whistle.
“Coach (Jabbar Juluke) always told me, if you don't hear the whistle try and make a play. I told coach they weren't downing the ball. I wanted to do that sooner but they kicked the ball out of bounds. On that play the whistle never blew,” Bennett said.
Lutcher took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 13-yard run by quarterback Ruston Matherne.
Karr made it 7-6 at halftime on a 1-yard run by quarterback Devante Noil in the second quarter.
The Cougars took their first lead of the game in the third quarter on a 23-yard run by Noil for a 13-7 advantage. Karr then put the game away later in the third quarter on Bennett’s punt return.
Matherne finished 25 yards rushing on 22 carries. He was limited to 6 of 8 passing for 52 yards. Senior running back Daniel Taylor, Lutcher’s all-time rusher with more than 5,000 yards, was held to 54 yards rushing in his final game in a Bulldogs’ uniform.
“We were out-manned, we were out-manned all night,” Detillier said. “We knew that coming in and it was tough.”
“The defense has been playing lights out for us all year,” Juluke said. “The coaching staff does a good job with them all year and we try to stay out of their way just let them be and make some plays.”
Noil led all rushers with 87 yards while scoring two touchdowns. He was 16 of 26 passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew we could move the football,” Juluke said. “We had it down in the red zone a couple of times in the first half and didn't capitalize.”