Excelsior Springs proves to be too much for Lafayette in district semifinal

Nov. 6—Facing a 21-0 deficit just less than two minutes into the first quarter, Lafayette began to put up a fight against Excelsior Springs' dominant ground game. The Irish ultimately fell short to the Tigers 54-20 in the Class 4 District 8 semifinal Friday at Scott Marriott Field.

"They had a lot of things go their way quickly and we got down in the hole pretty fast, but our kids kept a positive attitude and they maintained their composure," Lafayette head coach Ryan Shroyer said.

Finishing with 471 total rushing yards, Excelsior Springs' (7-2) triple-option attack shined from the start. Junior quarterback Chance Moreland got the scoring started early on the Tigers' first drive of the game on a 57-yard run to go up 7-0 with 11:07 still in the first.

The Tigers continued to roll, recovering their next two onside kicks. Senior Amani Robinson added two more scores to the board first on a 40-yard dash to the end zone then a 24-yard rushing touchdown push their lead to 21-0 over Lafayette.

Excelsior Springs head coach Mark Faubion said recovering onside kicks has been a strength for the Tigers all year.

"We just kind of had watched film and you see how they're moving, and we felt like we could attack those front guys," Faubion said.

The Fighting Irish (6-4) quickly battled back in the first quarter. Senior Xaviar Cary rushed in scores from five and nine yards out to trail 21-13, but the offense couldn't get much going after that.

"We haven't really seen anybody like that all year," Lafayette senior quarterback Jaron Saunders said. "They ran the ball hard. We just had to do a better job of wrapping up. Once we started doing that, we got a couple stops, and then they just stalled us on offense."

Moreland scored twice more before the break. After another long touchdown run to the house, this time boasting 80 total yards, Moreland pounded in a 2-yard rushing touchdown to push to a 41-13 advantage over Lafayette.

"It was just his turn," Faubion said. "In our triple option system, you kind of got to pick who you're taking away. Tonight they tried to take (Amani Robinson) away, and Chance made some very good decisions and when he makes good decisions, big things happen for us."

The Tigers kept their momentum in the second half, as Robinson scored his fourth rushing touchdown from three yards out to extend their lead to 47-13.

Moreland sealed their victory with his third and final long touchdown run of the night of 66 yards to lead 54-13. With a minute remaining, Saunders answered with his own 23-yard rushing touchdown, but it wasn't enough as Excelsior Springs closed out with a 54-20 victory.

For a span of four straight seasons, the two met in the district playoffs. Lafayette won in 2016 and in 2017, while the Tigers came away with victories in 2018 and 2019.

At the helm for six years, Faubion said adding a win to the series means more.

"We had to exercise some demons here. We had a lot of games here that have been really close and really tight and had our heart broken here, so to get this and play really, really well feels good."

The Tigers finished with 504 yards of total offense, and held the Irish to 129 yards passing and 192 yards rushing.

"We had a bunch of young guys playing this year and they're gonna be great next year under these coaches. We just want to be remembered as a team who fought until the end no matter what the score was," Saunders said.

Excelsior Springs faces top-seeded Smithville next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class 4 District 8 title game, while the Fighting Irish finish their season with a 6-4 record.

Micaela Dea can be reached at

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