In a battle of smashmouth defenses, La Salle High School prevailed over Winton Woods at Lancer Stadium, 21-7 Friday night. For more than 39 minutes, the Lancers held the Warriors scoreless.
Winton Woods had the lone offensive touchdown of the game but La Salle got four field goals from Mason Luensman, a pick-six from Gage Howard and a safety to hold off the Warriors for the second straight season. The last two losses Winton Woods has suffered have come at the hands of La Salle.
Luensman's field goals were from 38, 34, 30 and 36 yards. Indiana-bound Gi'Bran Payne rattled off 77 yards rushing and quarterbacks Cam Cope and Mason Mattingly had 69 and 64 yards, respectively.
"Any time we get inside the 20 to be able to kick a field goal is just a big weapon for us," La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin said.
Added Luesnman, "Coach puts that trust in me and whenever he puts it close I put it in for him."
JJ Ruffin led all defenders with 10 tackles as the Lancer defense held TyRek Spikes to 40 yards rushing. Winton Woods starting quarterback Buddy Ellery was 4-for-15 passing for 64 yards.
In relief, Logan Lawson was able to move the Warriors through the air going 8-for-18 for 167 yards. However, Tajh Landrum and Koy Beasley stifled late drives in the red zone with interceptions.
"Our defense and special teams scored enough to win," McLaughlin said. "We didn't score any offensive points tonight. The defense is just playing fast, playing physical."
The game was delayed for more than an hour due to thunderstorms and lightning in the Greater Cincinnati area Friday evening.
The Lancers spoiled last season for Winton Woods by handing them their only loss of the 2020 season last Nov. 6 in the Division II regional final.
The previous year, Winton Woods handed La Salle a 26-21 defeat at Lancer Stadium. La Salle would not lose again, reeling off six straight wins to take the Division II state championship in Canton over Massillon Washington.
"Winton Woods is always personal," Payne said "This is my first time playing against them in high school. I've been injured every year. It was good to play against my boys. I know all of them really."
The Warriors didn't give up their first points of the season until the final seconds of the first quarter when La Salle's Luensman drilled a 38-yard field goal for the opening lead.
La Salle had finally reached the red zone courtesy of a fumbled punt recovered by Ben Schleiff. However, a Mattingly to Payne touchdown pass was wiped out by a holding call and eventually the Lancers had to settle for three.
Mattingly didn't complete a pass against the stingy Warriors defense until the 5;48 mark of the second frame. After a second completion to Garrett Patterson, he had the Warriors down to the 5-yard-line. Davay Hill put his 220 pounds in the end zone from there, but it was called back on a chop block.
Luensman then delivered his second bull's-eye through the posts for a 6-0. Winton Woods came out firing but Ellery's pass was tipped by Deyour Brumfield and picked off by Gage Howard who returned it for a touchdown.
The Lancer offense still couldn't dent the end zone in the third quarter, but Luensman added a third field goal to increase the lead to 16. Tristen Wolf's tackle of Spikes in the end zone made it 18-0 after three quarters.
Rounding out the scoring, Luesnman kicked a 36-yard field goal.
In the fourth, the Warriors avoided a shutout on a long drive with Logan Lewis hitting Tai'je Frazier from 14 yards away to ruin the shutout. Winton Woods was last shut out in 2015 by Bishop Watterson of Columbus.
La Salle hosts IMG out of Florida next Friday night at 7 p.m. Winton Woods will host Kings in a Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown game.
IMG is currently ranked the No. 1 team in Florida as La Salle's schedule is challenging to say the least.
"When you play the schedule we play against the teams of the caliber and physicality that we're going to play, we've got to play a lot of guys," McLaughlin said. "We've played a lot of backs and five, six, seven linemen. Same on defense. We've got to keep these guys healthy."
La SALLE 3 10 5 3 21
WINTON WOODS 0 0 0 7 7
LS - Luensman 38-yard FG
LS - Luensman 34-yard FG
LS - Howard 25-yard INT return
LS - Luensman 30-yard FG
LS - Team safety (Wolf tackle)
WW - Lewis 14 yards to Frazier (Umba Dombele kick)
LS - Luesnman 30-yard-FG