ST. CHARLES — Arlen Harris Jr. knew it was only a matter of time before his offense got going.
Stymied while going scoreless in the first 24 minutes, Lutheran St. Charles exploded for five second-half rushing touchdowns, including four in the fourth quarter, to come away with a 35-13 win Friday night at Duchesne.
“We came in here knowing we could beat them,” said Harris Jr., a junior running back. “We knew we just had to play Cougar football.”
Lutheran (2-1) won its second successive game after dropping its season opener.
“We’ve played Class 4 (Helias), Class 6 (Fort Zumwalt West) and now Class 3, so we’ve seen three totally different scenarios,” said Arlen Harris Sr., the Cougars’ coach and Arlen Jr.’s father.
Duchesne (2-1) failed in its attempt for a second consecutive 3-0 start and has lost four consecutive meetings with Lutheran, including by a combined score of 113-0 the previous two years.
The Cougars’ five rushing touchdowns in the second half included four in the first 7 minutes, 8 seconds of the fourth quarter to bust open what was a close game.
Harris Jr.’s 20-yard TD run up the middle capped a 14-play, 68-yard drive and gave the Cougars their first points of the night as they trailed 13-6 after a missed two-point conversion.
After a high snap doomed Duchesne on a 36-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter, Harris Jr. scored again just 36 seconds into the period on a 48-yard scamper, but Lutheran still trailed 13-12 after a missed PAT.
After a quick three-and-out by the Pioneers, the Cougars grabbed their first lead of the night at 20-13 when Rhoderick Gibson scored on a 16-yard run. He then ran in the two-point conversion, making it 20-13 with 6:53 to play.
“That felt great,” Gibson said. “After that, everybody turned up.”
Five plays later, Ayden Harris picked off a pass and returned it to the Pioneers 17-yard-line, where his brother (Harris Jr.) then punched it in from. Ayden Harris then added the two-point conversion to push the lead to 28-13.
Gibson then put the game out of reach with an 18-yard scoring run with 4:52 left to play.
“We started off slow, but we finally had to just find our groove,” Harris Jr. said.
Both offenses were stagnant to start the game with the teams each trading a pair of three-and-outs on the first four possessions.
Duchesne finally got its initial first down of the game with 35 seconds left in the first quarter, but it was a big one, as it came on a 51-yard touchdown run by Antwon Hayden.
The Pioneers scored on their next possession as well as quarterback Taron Peete completed a seven-play, 63-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring toss to Nathan DuGuentz for a 13-0 lead after a missed point after attempt with 8:02 to play in the first half.
Both touchdowns came after Lutheran turnovers. The Cougars actually turned it over on a third consecutive possession, but Duchesne was unable to capitalize.
Lutheran was unable to get its offense on track in the first half with just five first downs and 148 total yards. The Cougars had just two snaps in Pioneers' territory.
“We had terrible first-half execution and we were undisciplined, so we made some changes at halftime,” Harris Sr. said. “And our defense has been bailing us out.”
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