Destrehan entered Thanksgiving week with plenty to be thankful for— and now they can add a berth in the state semifinals to that number.The Wildcats hosted a talented John Ehret team and a defensive struggle ensued for four quarters. But sophomore running back John Emery proved the offensive difference for the Wildcats, scoring three times to pace Destrehan to a 21-14 victory at home in a Class 5A quarterfinal game.
Top-seeded Destrehan (12-0) will host No. 5 seed Landry-Walker next week with a trip to the Superdome to compete for the 5A state championship on the line. Landry-Walker trounced Parkway in their quarterfinal matchup, 61-21, to advance.
For a Destrehan team that has run the ball at will for most of the 2016 season, Ehret’s defense showed up determined to be the exception to that rule. One of the state’s premier rushers, Destrehan’s Kristian Mosley, was bottled up for most of the game, and the teams combined for just 13 first half points. But in the second half, Destrehan began to find just enough running room to take control, with Emery punching in both second half scores.
“We knew we’d figure it out sooner or later,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “You hope that they get tired, because you’re not gonna find many defensive fronts like theirs. They’re big, they’re strong and they’re physical. We were able to figure it out and get it done.”
Said Emery, “It was hard to run on them, I’ll give them that. Our offense was down sometimes. But the whole offense had to pick it up … we’re hyped. Last year we didn’t make it this far. We’re in it together. We’re going to see Landry-Walker now and go for that W. I know Landry Walker’s a hard W to get, but we’re ready.”
Ehret (10-2) hit two early field goals to take a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. Destrehan was struggling to move the ball before J.R. Blood connected with Emery for Destrehan’s longest play of the night on a screen pass—Emery shook a defender and raced down the sideline 70 yards for a touchdown to give Destrehan a 7-6 lead.
“Once I had made two moves, had to just put my speed on,” Emery said.
Ehret drove into Destrehan territory on its next possession before the Wildcats came up with a key fourth down stop, defensive tackle Kieran Webb making a critical tackle on 4th and 2 at the DHS 36. Neither team drove past the 50 for the remainder of the half.
After Ehret forced a Destrehan three-and-out, Ehret again drove down into Destrehan territory and again faced a big 4th down situation. This time, Travis Mumphrey scrambled for an apparent first but fumbled—Destrehan’s Tariq Rogers recovered with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats capitalized on the momentum, marching 65 yards in six plays. Blood’s 36 yard pass to Quinton Torbor set up a 19-yard Emery touchdown to make it 14-6.
Ehret’s next drive was short-circuited by penalties. Three personal foul penalties in a row forced a 2nd-and-63 scenario that eventually led to a punt, flipping the field position battle in the process. Destrehan took over on the Ehret 35 after a Justin Jefferson punt return and Emery capped off a three play drive with a 5-yard score.
Ehret quickly got back in it with a long Mumphrey touchdown pass of 68 yards to Darius Campbell and a Mumphrey two-point conversion draw to make it 21-14 with 8:27 left. But Macon Clark came up with the defensive play of the night for Destrehan to end Ehret’s next drive, intercepting Mumphrey to give the ball back to his offense. The Wildcats were able to kill the clock from there.
“We knew he was going to number nine on the weak side,” Robicheaux said. “Macon was ready and he ended up coming through big for us.”
After Robicheaux was told Landry-Walker was waiting in the next round, he grinned and joked that he didn’t want to think about the talented Charging Buccaneers just yet, though he offered some thoughts nonetheless.
“They’re special,” Robicheaux said. “They’ve got 5 star recruits all over the place. But our kids have what it takes. They’re just gritty and they get it done, and it’s anybody’s game now.”