With a chance to remain undefeated in the Southeastern Football Conference, LaSalle knew four quarters would be required to beat host Florida Christian.
After jumping out to a three-score lead, the Royal Lions held off the Patriots for a 26-10 victory Friday night at Wadsworth Field.
“Nice quick start, but one thing about Florida Christian — they’re always never going to give up,” LaSalle coach Willie Trimmer said. “They’re feisty, tough, a well-coached bunch, and we knew you could get up by a few touchdowns, but you’re going to have to play four full quarters against them.”
LaSalle (3-0, 2-0) scored on its first three possessions to take a 19-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Royal Lions orchestrated a nine-play, 60-yard opening drive, culminating with Manny Readon’s 9-yard touchdown run — his first of two for the game — with 7:12 left in the first.
On its next drive, Joey McCain’s quarterback sneak picked up 2 yards on fourth-and-1. McCain found Rodrigo Berdullas for one of his four catches for an 8-yard touchdown.
After the Patriots (2-1, 1-1) fumbled on their first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, LaSalle took over at the 24.
The offense stalled but faked a field goal. Kicker Alejandro Cardenas rushed for a first down. McCain found Ronique Robinson on the next play for an 11-yard strike to extend the lead to 19-0.
Florida Christian ran just five plays in the first quarter and didn’t pick up its first first down until there were less than two minutes remaining in the half.
Facing a second-and-23, AJ Barba’s screen pass out of the end zone to Nick Tejedor went for 47 yards.
Back-to-back completions to Jeremiah Tejedor paired with a 15-yard facemask landed the Patriots inside the opponent’s 17-yard line. They settled for Josiah Bazyler’s 33-yard field goal with 19 seconds left.
Readon’s second score — an 11-yard run — came with 7:39 left in the third to push the lead to 26-3. He finished with 55 yards on 12 carries.
As a team, six rushers collected a combined 195 yards.
But the Patriots would try to rally with Barba’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Larry Arroyo with 8:07 remaining in the game. Barba went 11 for 28 for 122 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
A short LaSalle punt gave Florida Christian a possession that began at midfield. Poised to make it a one-score game, Barba threw four consecutive incompletions from the 18-yard line to turn the ball over on downs.
“We were just trying to cover the deep pass, stay short,” Readon said. “Good defensive stop. Defense played good [Friday] and came up big.”