Destrehan’s season came to an end Friday night as a furious rally came up just short of tying its Class 5A second round playoff game with Barbe, which held on for a 22-14 Class 5A playoff victory at DHS to advance to the Class 5A quarterfinals.
J.R. Blood threw a touchdown pass to Carson Rieder and John Emery scored on the ground in his first game action since midseason wrist surgery.
Destrehan (9-3) lost four fumbles, which loomed large in the loss, which saw Barbe (11-1) lead 22-0 at one point.
“You can’t spot a team like that 22 points,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “Too many mistakes. You can’t fumble the ball, jump offsides, have holding calls. Against a team like that, you have to play almost a perfect game to win.And we just didn’t play well enough tonight, and that’s my fault.”
The Wildcats fell behind 22-0 after Barbe quarterback Luke Richard scored on a 35-yard keeper early in the second half.
But from there, the Destrehan defense closed the season with one of its most impressive halves of the season, holding a powerful Barbe offense to several three-and-outs and giving its team a chance to rally.
Blood bought time on a scramble and connected on a 24-yard pass to Rieder, who was open in the back of Barbe’s endzone to put DHS on the board for the first time, making it 22-7.
But a chance to quickly shave the lead down to one score was thwarted when Emery, who was beginning to churn out several big gains, got loose for a near touchdown run but was stripped at the 1-yard line. It was Emery’s third lost fumble on a night where he was largely dominant running the ball, finishing with 16 carries for 122 yards.
Robicheaux said he wasn’t sure if the protective brace Emery wore for the game affected his ability to grip the ball, but largely chalked the fumbles up to bad luck for a great player.
“He’s a warrior,” Robicheaux said. “If he goes down on first contact, he probably avoids those fumbles. But he fights and fights and fights. I’ll take him any day. I want him on my team any day.”
Destrehan forced a punt and the offense quickly motored down the field again. This time, Emery capped the drive on an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 22-14.
The Wildcats forced a punt and took over with 2:50 left to play. It reached the Barbe 18, but a fourth down pass from Blood to Quincy Brown fell incomplete and the Buccaneers sealed the victory, taking over with 20 seconds left.
Robicheaux said he kept belief that his team could make a comeback, even down 22.
“It was 22-0, but we were moving the football and shooting ourselves in the foot. And I thought we could maybe get it close and we did. The offense got it going. Our defense played tremendous in the second half. We had our chance to tie it at the end.”
Though Destrehan finished with three losses this season, the most the program has had since 2012, Robicheaux told his players after the game that he couldn’t have been prouder of what they accomplished this season.
“This team battled a lot of adversity this season. We haven’t faced a lot of adversity in recent seasons, but this team responded to it,” Robicheaux said. “Key injuries, losses …this group really came back and fought hard. This is a special group.”