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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 09, 2017 1:00 am

Concordia 28 Bishop Luers 7

Cadets' defense thwarts Knights

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

It may seem effortless, the way Concordia quarterback Jake Byrd performs with wide receiver Kamari Anderson-Drew. There's a fluidity to the passing, route running and catching, all of which seems to befuddle opponents.

But Byrd and Anderson-Drew didn't have that connection automatically. They had to work on being able to do what they did Friday, when they connected eight times for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a commanding 28-7 victory at Bishop Luers.

“At the beginning of the season, actually, it was kind of shaky,” Anderson-Drew said. “We just weren't consistent. But we stayed after practice a lot and (Byrd) kept throwing to everybody, making sure all the balls were just good. We got the timing down. So we just had to make sure everything was good.”

Coming into the night, Anderson-Drew had caught 11 passes for 184 yards for Concordia (2-2), ranked ninth in Class 3A, then he put that to shame against 12th-ranked Bishop Luers (2-2).

“There's ton of potential there (with juniors Byrd and Anderson-Drew),” said coach Tim Mannigel, who led the Cadets to the state championship last season. “Kamari had a great season last year, and he probably didn't want to get off to the start he wanted to this year, but we have confidence in him and he showed tonight that he can be an explosive player for us.”

Byrd, who replaced Peter Morrison under center this year, completed 15 of 30 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Marcus Morrow rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our line was blocking pretty good, but our quarterback had to roll out a lot,” Anderson-Drew said. “So I had to come back to save the ball a lot. And I just tried to get up for my quarterback so we could make plays.”

Both offenses had their struggles with turnovers and bungled snaps, but the Cadets' defense was masterful in holding the Knights to three first downs and 30 yards of offense. Concordia's Liam Fletcher had five solo tackles, two sacks and blocked a punt, and Andrew Fortmeyer intercepted a Norman Knapke pass in the end zone.

Hoping to atone for a dreadful 47-3 loss to Homestead last week, things looked promising for Bishop Luers when Jordan Presley returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. But other than some other sparks by Presley, who intercepted a pass and forced a fumble with a sack, the Knights couldn't get their offense ignited. Knapke completed 10 of 20 passes for 65 yards with one interception, and Presley mustered 14 rushing yards.

“I think we've got one of the best defenses in the SAC,” Anderson-Drew said. “Our offense can come out a little shaky, but our defense picks us up a lot and helps us win the games.”

After a flurry of turnovers in both directions, the Cadets took a 14-7 lead when Morrow barreled ran from 6 yards out for his second touchdown.

Set up by a flag for roughing the passer, Concordia took a 21-7 lead when Anderson-Drew reeled in an 11-yard touchdown catch with 4:32 left in the third quarter. After Fortmeyer's interception, Byrd threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Anderson-Drew.

jcohn@jg.net