January 31, 2023

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St. Thomas More advances to semi-finals with a 56-34 win over Madison Prep

In the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Select Division II playoff bracket, the Madison Prep Chargers traveled to Lafayette to go up against the St. Thomas More Cougars. Madison Prep is coming off a 6-0 overtime victory over St. Louis Catholic, while St. Thomas More defeated Helen Cox 55-0 last week. 

Madison won the opening coin toss and elected to defer the ball until the second half. St. Thomas More opened the game with a big 40 yard kickoff return, but was called back for a block in the back on the Cougars. After the penalty, STM’s offense started their opening drive at their own 20 yard line. The Cougars started the game with back-to-back handoffs to junior running back Hutch Swilley and then a 20 yard pass from quarterback Sam Altman to Tanner Hornback. STM would go back to the run game and running back Hutch Swilley punched in the touchdown to get the Cougars on the board first. 

Madison would start their possession at their own 20 yard line and try to get the passing game going on the first play. After the incompletion, the Chargers handed the ball to Tony Lewis on back-to-back plays, but Lewis was stopped short on third down. The Chargers would be forced to punt the ball back to St. Thomas More. 

St. Thomas went back to the passing game to start the drive as the dynamic-duo of Sam Altman and Christian Mcnees would get in rhythm. Following back-to-back plays from Mcnees, the Cougars looked to their running backs Charlie Payton and Swilley, but a big stop from Ahmaad Lewis forced a fourth down. 

Chargers quarterback Tylan Johnson started the drive with a 14 yard pass to junior Hezekiah Dantzler. After driving downfield with a couple of runs by Tony Lewis, Johnson found senior Treylan James on the sideline. James would shake off a couple of defenders, but unfortunately he stepped out of bounds before going into the endzone.

On the next play, Tony Lewis punched in the touchdown to put the Chargers on the board. A missed PAT for the Chargers made the score 7-6 going into the second quarter. 

In the second quarter, the St. Thomas More offense started to get in rhythm and were unstoppable from that point on. Sam Altman and the Cougar offense went back to the passing game as he looked to senior receiver Connor Stelly. Following a couple plays in the air to Stelly and Mcnees, Charlie Payton widened the Cougars lead with a goal line touchdown. 

The Chargers responded quickly as their offense got into a rhythm as well. The Madison Prep offense drove downfield for 87 yards on only seven plays as Tony Lewis capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the game. 

The Cougars also had a long drive of their own as they started the drive from their own 11 yard line. Quarterback Sam Altman found his favorite target Mcness on a huge 52 yard pass to put the Cougars in Charger territory. Altman would go back to Mcness for his first touchdown of the game.

On the Chargers next drive, Johnson fired a deep shot intended to Dantlzer, but it was intercepted by senior safety Nicholas Beckwith. STM’s offense went back to running game with both Swilley and Payton getting touches. Hutch Swilley took a run up the middle into the end zone, but was called back for a holding penalty. On the very next play, Altman dropped back and fired a beautiful pass to Christian Mcnees for a Cougar touchdown. Their second touchdown connection of the game would make the score 28-13 before the half.

Madison Prep started the drive at their own 11 yard line with about three minutes left in the first half. The Chargers looked to their passing game going early in the drive as Johnson would find Hezekiah Dantlzer. The Cougars would send a blitz on the next play, which forced Johnson to scramble as he escaped for a gain of 13 yards. The Cougars defensive line was bringing pressure all night on Johnson as they would get a big fourth down sack.

On the first play after the Cougar’s defense forced a sack, Altman showcased his arm talent with a 37 yard pass to Connor Stelly

Following a deep pass from Altman, the Cougars went back to the run game. This time the Charger’s defense made a stop of their own as they stopped the Cougars on a big fourth down play .

In the second half, The chargers started the drive from their own 20 yard line. The Madison would lean on the run game of senior Zachary Stewart. On three consecutive runs with Stewart, the Chargers would go back to running back Tony Lewis. The Cougars front seven stepped up and stopped the Chargers on a third and short.

As the Cougars started their possession at midfield, Altman would go back to his favorite target Mcnees on a 15 yard bubble screen. Following a incompletion, Charlie Payton would cut back and walk into the end zone untouched for 35 yard rushing touchdown.

On the Chargers next drive, Madison would go back to the run game with Zachary Stewart. Following a couple of runs, Tylan Johnson would somehow find a way as he was being hit by three defenders and fired a quick pass to Stewart

Johnson would go back to the passing game with an incredible pass to Semaj Pierre to put the Chargers at the Cougars 5 yard line. The Chargers defense stood tall at their own goal line on three straight plays. After a penalty would give the Chargers another chance, on fourth down Johnson punched it in himself on a quarterback sneak

Johnson’s touchdown made the score 35-20 with about 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Cougar offense did not slow down as they drove down field. Altman went back to Mcnees and were able to connect for his third touchdown of the game. The Chargers’ offense looked to go back to their passing as Johnson would find Semaj Pierre for a 18 yard reception. Following a big stop for the Cougars on third down, the Chargers decided to go for it on fourth down. STM defense came with back-to-back big plays as they forced Johnson to scramble and stop him short of the first down.

The Cougar’s offense would start their drive in great field position around the Madison 40 yard line. Following a couple runs to Charlie Payton, Altman would show off his athleticism with a 25 yard gain to put the Cougars in the redone. Payton would run it in for the score to extend their lead to 49-20.

The Chargers offense efficiently drove downfield on account of the arm of Tylan Johnson. Johnson and the offense capped off their drive with touchdown pass to Hezekiah Dantzler.

The Cougar’s offense was not finished as Payton punched in his fourth touchdown of the game with about 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead would be too much to overcome for the Chargers as St. Thomas More would go on to win 56-34.

This offensive battle was definitely an incredible matchup and a big night for both teams’ quarterbacks. Sam Altman ended the game with about 330 passing yards and three touchdowns. For the sophomore quarterback, Johnson had an outstanding game to cap off his first year on varsity. Johnson accounted for about 436 yards all-purpose yards. He ended the game going 20 for 30 with 335 passing yards, 101 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns.

As St. Thomas More advances to the semi-finals, their win sets up a rematch of last year’s semi-final game between STM and E.D. White. E.D. White will travel to Lafayette this upcoming Friday Dec, 2nd at 7pm.




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