Call it lucky No. 13.
Kokomo’s streak of success over North Central Conference foe Logansport is still intact following the Kats’ 34-20 victory over the Berries on Friday night at Walter Cross Field.
Plez Lawrence erupted for more than 200 total yards and three touchdowns and Kokomo broke a 20-all tie with a pair of scores in a two-minute fourth-quarter span to secure the win, the Kats’ 13th straight over the Berries.
Lawrence rushed for 180 yards on 20 carries and added a 27-yard catch for Kokomo (2-5), which improved to 2-3 in NCC play with its second straight win following an 0-5 start. Lawrence rushed for three scores from 61, 11 and 26 yards, the final one with 2:34 to play giving Kokomo its biggest advantage at 14 points and capping his huge night.
Tied 20-all with under five minutes to play, Tre’ Hizer pounced on a fumble at the seven-yard line to set up Kohl Beard’s 7-yard run on the following play with 4:29 remaining to put the Kats up 27-20 followeing Cole Boruff’s point after.
Logan then went a quick three-and-out, turning the ball over on downs at their 26. Lawrence raced the Kats first play of the drive in for a score to all but salt the game.
“Senior leadership on defense, that’s where that all started at,” Kokomo coach Richard Benberry said. “My front is basically seniors and those kids in those key critical moments stepped up. That tipped pass that Tre’ Hizer had, that was a huge play. And that huge fumble that Tre’ jumped on, another big play. Seniors helping seniors is what turned the momentum around.”
Thanks to a pair of long and efficient, clock-chewing drives wrapped around two Kokomo scoring drives, the Berries (1-6, 0-5 NCC) clung to a 14-13 halftime lead.
On the game’s opening drive, Logan chewed more than eight minutes off the clock with a 17-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with a five-yard TD run from Josh Manfred. Manfred’s run after put the Berries up 8-0.
After Kokomo punted on a quick three-and-out that set up Logan at the Kat 39, the Berries went deep on the second play of the drive but the Kats’ Ta’Shy Stewart had his eye on the pass and picked it off at the 11.
The pick paid off, leading to a Kokomo score as the Kats marched 89 yards in a drive ending the first quarter and stretching into the second with Beard scoring from four yards out with 9:54 to play in the half, getting Kokomo within 8-6.
On the Kats’ next possession, Lawrence got loose on the third play of the drive, racing 61 yards to paydirt. Boruff’s point after put the Kats up 13-8 with 7:15 to play in the half.
Another 17-play drive for Logan, this one eating up just under seven minutes and moving 81 yards, saw Logan quarterback Garrett Burton hit Donny Cardona with a five-yard pass to give the Berries a one-point edge at the half.
Logan intercepted Kokomo on the Kats’ first drive of the second half to stall out a strong drive.
The Berries then strung together yet another long drive, eating up 5:49 over 15 plays and 72 yards with Manfred racing in from 10 yards out for his second score as Logan upped its lead to 20-13.
Kokomo responded with a quick eight-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game at 20-all. Andres Begne hit Noa Wainscott with a 42-yard pass to set up Lawrence’s second TD of the night, an 11-yard run. Anjelo Flores’ point after knotted the score with 10:14 remaining.
From there, the Kats clamped down as Logan couldn’t put together any more sustainable drives, turning the ball over three times and punting once on its final four possessions.
“They have great plays and there aren’t a lot of them,” Benberry said. “They are very vanilla but they run those plays over and over again at you. So what’s going through my mind is that we’ve got to get a stop. When they passed the ball we found our opportunities and took our chances.”
Beard finished with 50 yards on nine carries, running as a quarterback out of the wildcat formation at times.
Kokomo had three interceptions on the night, with Beard adding a pick late in the game.
Wainscott hauled in three passes for 54 yards. Begne was 7 of 13 with one interception for 101 yards.