When it was over, Eureka coach Farrell Shelton and his staff could breathe a big sigh of relief. But not until the final seconds and the final drive.
On the Lafayette side of the field, it was a frustrating sense of rallying back but coming up short.
Eureka’s defense stuffed Lafayette quarterback Cameron Scales on a two-point conversion in the closing seconds and the Wildcats held on for a 17-15 victory over Highway 109 rivals Friday night at Lafayette.
In a sloppy opener that took over three hours and had 20 penalties racked up by both teams, it was Eureka (1-0) that had just enough to start the 2014 season in the win column.
Eureka receiver Bobby Saunders paced the Wildcats receivers with 90 yards on six catches. Lafayette’s Brian Boyd had a nice game through the air with four catches for 75 yards.
Neither team was able to do much offensively early due to penalties and mistakes.
Quarterback Brett Geisz led the Eureka offense with 69 yards rushing and was 13 of 25 passing for 166 yards with a touchdown through the air and one on the ground.
Eureka pushed a slight 7-6 lead to 10-6 on a 44-yard field goal by Bo Highfill early in the third quarter.
Lafayette got its early touchdown on a 20-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard Scales to Boyd pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, Eureka pushed its lead to a seemingly safe 17-6 margin thanks to a Geisz scramble and 36-yard hookup with Saunders for a TD.
Behind Scales, the Lancers came roaring back as Jake Reynolds hit a 35-yard field goal and then in final minute of play, drove 50 yards to pull within two points on Scales 44 -yard TD strike to Collin Paul.
Lafayette fell to 0-1 with the loss.
Eureka travels to Oakville next Friday for Suburban West American Division game.
Lafayette visits Hazelwood Central next Saturday for a non-conference game.
NOTES: In other games involving area teams on Friday night, Parkway Central fell to Rockwood Summit 21-9, Marquette was beaten 31-7 by Ritenour, Parkway West rolled past Union 49-39, Parkway North lost to Timberland 33-21, Parkway South edged Oakville 10-6, Francis Howell blasted Webster Groves 58-12, and Fort Zumwalt West routed Holt 42-7.