On Homecoming night at Paris High School, the Lawrenceville Indians played the spoiler as they defeated the Tigers 20-13.
With the win, the Indians improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Little Illini Conference. The Tigers fall to 2-2 on the year and 1-1 in the LIC.
Hearkening back to the 1980s, Lawrenceville employed the wishbone and almost exclusively kept the ball on the ground. In fact, the Indians attempted just three passes in the game – three times as many passes as they attempted the week before. Lawrenceville ran the ball 45 times in the contest, racking up 255 yards. However, none of the three passes was bigger than the last one, a 17-yard completion to convert a fourth-and-12 with just over 90 seconds left, thwarting a chance for the Tigers to satisfy the capacity crowd.
As has been the case in the first three games, the Tiger offense struggled to convert on short-field situations. That was never more evident than their first possession of the game. After holding Lawrenceville to a three-and-out on their first possession, Paris started their first drive at their own 41-yard line. After crossing into Lawrenceville territory, the Tigers also had to punt. Starting at their own 15-yard line, the first down snap sailed over quarterback Wyatt Halter’s hands but was recovered at the five. Lawrenceville punted the ball away and the Tigers started at the Indian 43-yard line. Paris failed to convert a fourth-and-5 and turned the ball over on downs. On the very first play, Tanner Waller took the handoff and sprinted to the end zone, right in front of the Tiger bench. The two-point conversion was good and the Indians led it 8-0 with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Paris answered that score with a drive that took a page right out of the Indians’ playbook. They embarked on a 10-play, 65-yard drive that chewed over six minutes off the clock. The final 24 yards came on the feet of Ty King as he took the snap from the wildcat formation and scampered to the end zone right in front of the Paris High School Marching Tigers. Robert Wells split the uprights to make the score 8-7 in favor of the Indians.
The Tigers were set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half, but the visitors had other plans. Conor Lill attempted an onside kick that bounced off of a Tiger and was recovered by the Indians. Lawrenceville scored from 18 yards out on a run by Bryant Jenkins. The two-point conversion failed and the Tigers trailed 14-7 with 8:36 left in the third quarter. The rest of the period was quiet, but Lawrenceville began the fourth quarter with a first-and-goal at the Tiger five-yard line.
Jenkins found paydirt on the first play of the fourth, but the two-point conversion once again failed, making it 20-7. Paris found themselves in trouble after turning the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive. With the clock creeping under the eight-minute mark and the Indians looking to salt the final minutes away, the Tigers needed a turnover. Their prayers were answered as the Indians fumbled the ball with the Tigers recovering. Facing a fourth and five at their own 35, Drew Rogers found Mason Byrnes on a screen pass that covered 39 yards. Paris was guilty of holding on the play, but the penalty still afforded the Tigers a first down. Kalvin Rigdon took the handoff from Rogers and powered his way to the endzone from 27 yards out. The extra point was no good, making the score 20-13 with 5:50 remaining in the contest. However, the Tigers would not touch the ball again as the Indians ran out the clock after converting a huge fourth down.
Rogers completed three of 10 passes for 71 yards. He also carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards. Ethan Curl and Byrnes each racked up 46 yards, Rigdon added 28 yards on two touches, and Ty King gained 24 yards on two totes. King also hauled in two passes for 47 yards with Byrnes adding 24 yards on his only catch.
The Tigers will hit the road on Friday, Sept. 22 as they travel to Mt. Carmel to face the 3-1 Golden Aces.