On a night where Destrehan and Thibodaux combined to score 81 points, Wildcats linebacker Jonathan Duhon emerged with one of the night’s most pivotal plays.
Duhon intercepted Thibodaux quarterback Kevon Williams with 1:47 left to play and his team up eight, setting up a Kristian Mosley touchdown run to finish off a 48-33 Destrehan victory at Thibodaux and in the process clinching an unbeaten regular season and the District 7-5A championship for the Wildcats.
“It’s a great, great feeling,” Duhon said. “A game-winning interception … that’s the biggest play I’ve ever made. I saw him cross in front of me, jumped in front of him and then ran my hardest to try and get into the endzone. Didn’t quite make it, but I’ll take it.”
Destrehan (9-0, 6-0) extended its on-field unbeaten streak in the regular season to 38. 2016 represents the fourth consecutive district championship for the Wildcats, who also stand a strong chance of earning Class 5A’s top overall seed for the postseason. Destrehan has an open date in Week 10, making Friday’s win the final playing date before the postseason.
“The district championship isn’t as important as it once was, when it determined your playoff opponent … now it comes down to power points,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “But it is special to come out here and go undefeated in this district. I’m happy for the kids. They’ve delivered all year.”
Some more good news for the Wildcats: Friday saw the surprise return of senior quarterback Kohen Granier, who played for much of the second half in relief of starter J.R. Blood. Granier was in the midst of a stellar start to the season when he injured his knee in Week 4 and had not played since. Granier did not officially throw a pass—he completed one ball for a first down that was wiped out by penalty — but got his feet wet two weeks before the start of the postseason.
“We planned on playing him for two series,” Robicheaux said. “The doctors said he can’t hurt it any further. With a brace, he’s good to go. We decided to give him a couple series and we were doing well so we kept him in there. That’s no knock on J.R., he did a great job for us, too. But Kohen’s a senior, and we let him get the playing time.”
Destrehan had to ward off a high-powered Thibodaux offense geared around the talents of Amik Robertson, who scored three touchdowns and was a major factor all night long.
Providing a big answer was Mosley for Destrehan, who rushed for over 200 yards and scored three touchdowns of his own.
“I tell you what, if there’s a better player I haven’t seen him,” Robicheaux said. “This district’s special. You’ve got Him, Pooka (Williams), Mosley, you’ve got (John) Emery and (Justin) Jefferson here … you’ve just got some great players in this district. Two of them put on a show tonight and did a great job.”
Destrehan led 21-14 at halftime, but made a big play off the bat in the second half when the Wildcats’ special teams forced Robertson to fumble and recovered at the Thibodaux 40.
Two plays later DHS quarterback J.R. Blood went deep to find a wide open Mike Young for a 46-yard touchdown to make it 28-14.
But Thibodaux turned momentum in their favor in a big way, scoring the next 19 points of the night. First, Robertson keyed a quick scoring drive with two big runs of 20 and 41 yards respectively, the second going for a touchdown to make it 28-21.
Thibodaux (6-3, 5-1) cut the Destrehan lead to one on Saharold Holmes’ 38-yard touchdown run with 7:47 left in the third quarter. The Tigers missed the potential tying extra point.
The Tigers took the lead on their next possession, this time when Williams threw a long ball to Rochon Washington for a 57-yard score to make it 33-28.
Destrehan needed a spark and inserted Granier into the game with 4:12 left in the third quarter. But penalties short-circuited the Wildcats drive and forced a punt. Thibodaux made a costly mistake, however, fumbling their next possession back to Destrehan.
Mosley made Thibodaux pay, running off tackle for a 75-yard touchdown to give DHS a 34-33 lead after a two-point run was unsuccessful.
Destrehan came up with a big defensive stop on fourth down at its own 33. The offense drove into Thibodaux territory before penalties created a first-and-24 scenario at the THS 40 with 7:07 left. Emery wiped it away by exploding through the line for a 40-yard score, putting Destrehan ahead by 8.
“We thought we could wear them down and take advantage in the second half,” Robicheaux said. “I thought we ran it well overall tonight.
Each defense made a stop before Duhon’s interception all but sealed the win.
“We were kinda shaking our heads there in third quarter,” Robicheaux said. “Coach (Marcus) Scott did a good job and made a few adjustments here and there. Thibodaux had a great scheme, Coach Scott came up with a counter and it worked for us.”