ARGENTA — LSA prefers to be the visiting team for homecoming.
“We love to spoil parties,” LSA quarterback Briley Housh said.
The Lions immediately wrecked Argenta-Oreana's homecoming — and its perfect season — with an impressive 34-24 victory on Friday night.
Even better, LSA clinched its first Little Okaw Valley Northwest title in the program's short history.
“At the beginning of the year, the seniors got together with the coach and we made our goals,” Housh said. “This was our No. 1 goal. Two years ago, who would've thought LSA and Argenta would be playing for the conference championship? It's a huge, huge win.”
Reputed experts probably expected Argenta's prolific offense to run away with the game. Instead, it was LSA's offense.
Housh burned the Bombers with 11-of-17 passing for 144 yards and three TDs — all of those scores going to different receivers.
Housh first hit sophomore wideout Grant Karsten for a rousing 31-yard TD pass on 3rd-and-long and a 14-8 lead in the second quarter, and then it was senior Clayton Vought with an equally dramatic 21-yard TD catch for a 20-8 lead just before halftime.
Junior teammate Xavier Todd provided the exclamation point. He secured a spectacular 21-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter to lock up the win.
“We don't have anybody that sticks out,” said Housh, whose team improved to 7-1 overall, 4-1 in conference play. “We have a bunch of weapons in all of the spots that we have. They do all of the hard work, run the routes and the line does the protection. I just have the easy job. I just have to throw it.”
Housh also spearheaded the running game. He had 19 rushes for 117 yards while junior Chandler Carter had his first start in the backfield and provided 13 carries for 103 yards and one TD.
“Briley's really taken the team on his shoulder the last few weeks,” LSA coach Craig Bundy said. “But our offensive line has also done a tremendous job. Our passing game is probably what won us the ball game. It was huge to go up by two scores (before halftime).”
Argenta (7-1, 4-1) drove all the way down to its goal line on the game's opening possession. But LSA senior defensive back Jackson Allen robbed the Bombers of a score with an interception in the end zone.
Argenta's offense, which had averaged 45.1 points per game until Friday, essentially sputtered the rest of the way and posted its fewest points of the season thus far.
“The wind was out of our team before the game started,” Argenta coach Chad Eisenmenger said. “That was a very good team that was well-prepared. I feel like they wanted it more than we did. We got to get back to what we did to get to seven wins. I think we got overconfident and we have to get back to the drawing board.”
Argenta seemed poised for a rally at the start of the second half.
LSA punter Michael Fiala mishandled a difficult snap and Argenta pounced for prime field position at the 20-yard line.
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Argenta QB Brody Ulrey ran in for a score shortly after, but it was nullified by an illegal block.
That momentum completely vanished when LSA's standout defensive end Kholbe Leaks broke through with back-to-back sacks, including one for a 19-yard loss on 4th-and-10.
“My defensive line pushed him to my side,” Leaks said. “They were able to let me tackle the quarterback basically. We got into the groove of things after those two sacks. Everyone else on the team sort of fed off that energy and played at a whole new level.”
“I'm proud of how physical and athletic we were on defense,” Bundy said. “We have all of the respect in the world how explosive Argenta is and what a great quaterback Brody Ulrey is.”
LSA quickly capitalized and marched down the field to set up a short TD run by Carter for a 27-8 lead in the third quarter.
Quick first quarter
The first quarter lasted approximately just 20 minutes.
Both Argenta and LSA ate up the clock with just one drive each.
In fact, LSA didn't score until the very start of the second quarter — a two-yard TD run by Todd.
Argenta temporarily led 8-7 just a few minutes later when sophomore running back Skyler Peterson dashed to the pylon.
Much to play for
It was a humbling loss for Argenta.
Not only did the Bombers' chances for their first undefeated regular season since 1976 slip away, they lost out on the conference title.
Argenta's magical season isn't over with playoffs still looming.
“I told our guys after the game that one of our goals was to be undefeated conference champs,” Eisenmenger said. “That's not going to happen anymore. Our ultimate goal is to go as far as we can in the playoffs. We got ourselves in position for a home (playoff) game if we win our next week and get a decent seed.
“We're a good football team. We just have to get back to what we've done all year long.”