Razan Keller scored three touchdowns, two of those in the second half, as Destrehan rolled past Ouachita Parish on a rainy Friday night to advance to round two of the Class 5A playoffs, 35-14.
Kevin Adams returned an interception for a touchdown and Calvin Bullock hauled in a 37-yard scoring pass from Jai Eugene Jr. to help propel DHS (8-1) to its 8th straight win.
DHS will face Dutchdown in round two. Dutchdown defeated Terrebonne in round one to advance.
The Wildcats led 14-7 at halftime but dominated the second half, outscoring the Lions (1-5) 21-7 after the break.
While Destrehan, the No. 5 seed in this year’s 5A bracket, was heavily favored to come away with the win over the 28th seeded Lions, Ouachita hung tough in all but one of its games against strong competition this season. Through a half, the same was true on Friday, as Keller and Bullock’s scores left Destrehan with just a one touchdown lead entering the third quarter.
“We had to settle our guys down a bit,” said Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott, who celebrates his first playoff victory as Destrehan head coach after taking the helm of the program this season. “We had to come back to the fundamentals. We didn’t have the pass rush we needed in the first half, and it was on us to make sure we did some things to get some more pressure in the second half.”
The Wildcats came out of the locker room with a notable fire to them, and it showed on the field on the second half kickoff, which Tyler Morton returned to the Ouachita 33 yard line before letting out a determined yell. It did not yet equate to an increased lead, though. Destrehan turned to the running game, but stalled after a shot pass by Eugene intended for Daniel Blood near the endzone fell incomplete. Will Bryant attempted a 51-yard field goal that had enough leg, but missed wide left.
But Destrehan stopped Ouachita quickly on the ensuing drive, and the Wildcats made on good field position this time as the rain began to fall heavily. Keller broke loose inside the 30-yard line and finished into the endzone through contact to put DHS ahead 21-7 midway through the third quarter.
And just like that, DHS broke it open: on Ouachita’s next drive, Wildcats defensive back Kevin Adams broke on an Ouachita pass to intercept the ball and return it for a score, and suddenly DHS was ahead by three touchdowns.
“He was lined up inside. I knew the route, stayed patient, waited and broke on it … it felt good,” Adams said. “Early in the game, he got a touchdown on me. You know I had to come back.”
Ouachita answered in the final minutes of the third quarter to cut the lead to two touchdowns, on a Zach Shaw touchdown pass to Dearrio Jacobs, but Destrehan had its formula – airtight defense and a punishing running game – rolling on all cylinders. Runs by Keller, Lee and Eugene kept the chains moving, and the putaway score came early in the fourth quarter on a Keller 4-yard plunge.
Destrehan stopped Ouachita twice from there, the final Lions’ pass broken up by Jaden Harding with just under two minutes left to officially propel DHS to round two.
“We had a bad first half,” Adams said. “We started to pick it up toward the end. In the second half we played with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence. We can’t start like we did last week (against Hahnville). We have to do better.”
Scott said he and his staff knew Ouachita was a well-coached group that played at a level beyond its record.
“We knew it would be a physical game, especially with the weather conditions what they were,” Scott said. “It’s the playoffs. We take it any way it comes, by one, or whatever the margin. I’m happy the kids played hard and we get to move on to the next round.”