The Destrehan Wildcats accepted their fate, facing an essentially 9-1 Dutchtown team in the first round of the playoffs, and took them down 35-28 Friday night. Tomorrow, the Wildcats will again be at home against the 8-4 Carencro Bears in the regionals.
The Bears ended the Wildcats' season three years ago when they were the number one ranked team in the state. They defeated the Wildcats 34-13 and then lost to Hahnville in the next round. This time, Destrehan is the higher ranked team and the Bears just defeated Hahnville in the previous round.
Carencro's game plan is to run the football. They gained over 400 yards on the ground last week against Hahnville and their leading rusher, Alonzo Landry, rushed for over 1400 yards and 21 touchdowns this season.
Destrehan has had trouble against the run in recent games, but contained Dutchtown's ground game enough to claim a victory. Destrehan has the offense to stay with any high-scoring team, especially now that starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson is healthy and available. The defense will again need to force the pass to allow the Wildcat defensive backs to force turnovers. If they cannot do that, this will be a very close game.
Carencro has likely not seen a passing offense of the magnitude of Destrehan's this season. And if Jefferson is at full strength, their defensive backs will have the test of the careers.
The Bears have not lost by more than 10 points this year and came within one point of defeating 10-0 West Monroe earlier in the season. This will not be an easy game, but the Wildcats are used to that having had four consecutive tough games prior to this one.
Last Friday, the Wildcats relied on the running game to set up the passing game in their victory over the Dutchtown Griffins. Returning fullback Joel Banks and tailback Jerico Nelson were instrumental in getting the passing game going. And that air game was good for four touchdowns, all from quarterback Ramal Ellis who threw for 179 yards.
On their first possession, the two running backs and Ellis ran the ball from their own 34-yard line to the Griffin three. From there, Ellis tapped wide receiver Tim Molton for a three-yard touchdown pass, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead after the Ryan Rome extra point.
The Wildcats then went up 14-0 after receptions to wide receiver Damaris Johnson and Edwin Reed set up a 28-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with less than five minutes to go in the first quarter. Johnson would lead the receiving corps with six catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
Dutchtown then responded with its first score of the game, a 15-yard pass to Desmond Thompson.
Dutchtown looked as if they would tie the score after Destrehan fumbled in Griffin territory, but Reed intercepted a deep ball and returned it 38 yards to the Destrehan 48. However, the Wildcats could not take advantage of the turnover.
Dutchtown did tie it up later in the second quarter on a 52-yard run by Kelvin York. But Destrehan struck right back, mounting a 49-yard drive with two and half minutes left. The drive was set up by a 38-yard kick return by Reed. Then receptions to Molton and Reed and a few runs by Nelson led to a 21-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Lionel Washington. That gave Destrehan a 21-14 lead going into halftime.
The second half opened with Dutchtown driving down and missing a 38-yard field goal attempt. That gave Destrehan the opportunity to extend their lead, which they did 13 plays later. Key receptions to Reed, Banks, Johnson and Terrance Williams set up a 14-yard touchdown reception by Johnson to give the Wildcats a 28-14 lead.
However, things would turn around momentarily as a short Griffin punt touched a Wildcat player and Dutchtown recovered it at their own 46-yard line. That led to a 54-yard drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy, which cut the Wildcat lead to 28-21.
Dutchtown then tried an onside kick, but one of their players touched the ball before it went 10 yards and Destrehan took over at the Griffin 46. Three plays into the drive marked the return of Jefferson, who had been out with a wrist injury since week six. Jefferson then completed a key pass to Reed to get to the 15. Runs by Banks, Jefferson and Nelson then got them down to the three. From there, Nelson dove in for the Wildcats' fifth touchdown of the game, giving Destrehan a 35-21 lead.
Dutchtown had one more drive in them, going 70 yards in the game's final minutes and scoring on a five-yard Lacy run with 16 seconds left, cutting the lead to 35-28.
Their only hope was an onside kick, but Molton caught the kick and returned it 15 yards to seal the victory.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 10-1 on the season and advance to the regional round of the state playoffs. They will host Carencro tomorrow at home at 7 p.m.
It’s a wrap as Hahnville finishes season 6-5
After last week’s win over Assumption, Hahnville fell flat with a final score of 35-14 against Carencro to finish up the season. Standouts in the Carencro game: Jordan Stephany 14 carries, and 41 yards; Early James 19 carries, 109 yards, and 1 touchdown; Laron Byrd 2 receptions, and 17 yards; B.J. Young 4 catches, and 48 yards; Ivory Washington 2 receptions, 7 yards, and 1 touchdown.