If the old saying “defense wins championships” is true, then Bishop Luers has the team to produce another state title.
The Knights' defense led the way again as it returned an interception for a touchdown and set up a punt return for a touchdown as Bishop Luers beat North Side 22-20 at Luersfield and moved alone into second place in the SAC.
“We played real good defense. They did get a couple big plays, but that's the type of team they are, probably the quickest team we'll see all year,” said Bishop Luers head coach Steve Keefer.
The Bishop Luers defense not only produced points, but also held North Side quarterback C.J. Jackson in check for most of the game. The Knights defense didn't allow the Redskins to gain a first down on seven of 12 offensive possessions.
“Field position, field position. We kept punting the ball and sticking them deep in their own territory, and sooner or later, that's going to pay off for you,” Keefer said.
Even with such a strong defensive performance, Bishop Luers had to make a stop at the end to seal the game.
Up eight with 2:11 left in the game, the Knights had a field goal blocked, and North Side took over on its own 22-yard line. After losing 5 yards on its first three plays of the drive, the Redskins faced a third-and-15 with 1:40 remaining.
Then Jackson showed why he has become known as an offensive threat this season. When the Knights coverage blanketed his receivers, Jackson took off on a scramble as the pocket closed around him, running 17 yards for a first down.
A few plays later, Jackson hit Anthony Linnear down the left sideline for a 35-yard pass and a touchdown to make it 22-20 with 46.8 left in the game and set up a two-point conversion attempt to tie.
“It was just no-holds-barred,” said Knights linebacker Jaylon Smith about the two-point conversion. “Everybody give their best effort and what happens, happens.”
The Bishop Luers defense made sure what happened was pressure on Jackson. The Knights broke through the line and contained the quarterback, forcing him to make a throw on the run. It went high and long through the back of the end zone.
“You just have to settle in and play your position and get the job done,” Keefer said. “You know the kids played hard and put the pressure on them.”
The win kept Bishop Luers in contention for the SAC title behind Snider. Both the Knights and Panthers face Bishop Dwenger in the next two weeks, but even a big win to keep slim hopes of retaining the Victory Bell won't stay with Keefer.
“Forget about (the win) tomorrow and get ready for next week; this one is in the books,” he said.