Rams edged in opener

mjobrien@vagazette.com

The streaks are over.

Lafayette High lost 15-10 to Norcom at Wanner Stadium on Thursday, falling for the first time in 47 regular-season games – a streak that included four consecutive unbeaten regular seasons.

Quinten Greene ended the Rams’ streak with a spectacular diving catch of Jacoby Smith’s pass in the end zone on fourth down with 32 seconds remaining. That gave the Greyhounds (2-0) a 15-10 lead, and when the Rams fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the unbeaten string was over.

It was the second costly turnover for the Rams (0-1) in the final minutes. Lafayette was leading 10-8 when quarterback Cesar Ward fumbled after a 4-yard gain on a bootleg and Antonio Hines recovered for Norcom at the Rams’ 44 with 3:22 to play in the game.

Smith passed to Greene over the middle for 11 yards on fourth-and-9 to the Lafayette 32. That play was made possible because the Rams were called the play before for a face-masking penalty on what appeared to be a game-clinching tackle by the Rams’ Josh Coley on Greene for a 16-yard loss.

Given new life, Smith connected with Isaiah Bell for 11 yards along the sideline to the Rams’ 21. Norcom netted no yards on the next three plays before Greene made his diving catch for the winning touchdown.

It was Greene’s third big play of the night. Two came moments after Lafayette took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter on Ward’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Ward’s touchdown was set up by Mike Rodgers’ 40-yard punt return and Demario Tyler’s 11-yard run. Armonii Burden ran to within inches of the goal line on the next play before Ward ran the ball in for the score.

That lead lasted 15 seconds, the time it took Greene to return the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown. Greene, the holder on the extra point, threw to Thomas White for two points to give the Greyhounds an 8-7 lead with 11:37 remaining in the first half.

Otherwise, Norcom went nowhere in the first half against a Lafayette defense led by linebackers Burden and Jack Erwin. The Rams held the Greyhounds to just 9 yards total in the opening two quarters.

Lafayette moved the ball consistently in the first half, running for 153 yards, but bogged down at the end of time-consuming possessions.

Jordan Ballowe carried much of the load running the football, with help from Tyler and Isaac Duncan, as the Rams ran for gains of 17, 15, 14, 8 and 11 yards. They drove from their 13 to the Norcom 22 in 64 seconds, setting up Ish Roy’s 28-yard field goal with no time left in the first half that gave Lafayette a 10-8 lead.

Norcom responded with a time-consuming 16-play drive in the second half, moving from its 9 to the Rams’ 27. But the Greyhounds came up empty as Lafayette’s Zach New intercepted a Smith pass at the Rams’ 2 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Rams held on to the lead until Greene’s late-game heroics. It was Lafayette’s first home loss since November 2013, when the Rams fell to James Monroe in a regional final.

O’Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963 and @MartyO’BrienDP

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