Destrehan is headed to the Class 5A state semifinals, courtesy of a hard-fought 31-14 victory over visiting Terrebonne Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
DHS running back and LSU commitment John Emery rushed for four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to their second victory over their district rival Tigers in a month’s time.
The Wildcats (12-1) led 3-0 at halftime, but exploded for 28 second half points, with Emery supplying each of the touchdowns. Destrehan handed Terrebonne (11-2) its only losses of the season.
Destrehan, the No. 2 seed in Class 5A, will host No. 6 Zachary next week, with a trip to the Superdome on the line.
“I thought we played defense real well the whole night,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “They’re real explosive, and we only gave up the one (offensive) touchdown. Offensively we committed to the run. We’ve got a five star running back, an offensive line that did a real good job and that allowed us to take over the game, along with our defense.”
Emery rushed for 215 yards on 21 carries, much of that total coming in the second half. He said the shift in momentum came down to adjustments.
“We came back at half and reevaluated some things,” Emery said. “We changed some things up, shifted to some formations they hadn’t seen from us before … we knew they’d be coming in and would give it all they had and we’d have to change it up a little.”
Robicheaux said he had no illusions that Friday’s game would mirror the first matchup between the teams, a 49-20 Destrehan victory that decided the District 7-5A championship. On that night, Destrehan scored 35 first half points; on this one, just three before the break.
“(Playing Terrebonne for a second time) was definitely a concern I had. I knew it wasn’t gonna be like the last time,” Robicheaux said. “(Terrebonne coach Gary Hill) did a tremendous job getting them ready … they played us to a tee tonight and we were fortunate to come out with the win.”
Destrehan led 3-0 at half after a Michael Ehrmann 24-yard field goal in the second quarter.
In the second half, DHS finally got some breathing room after J.R. Blood connected with Koby Hollins on a deep shot to set up a 2-yard Emery touchdown plunge to make it 10-0.
“I wanted more,” Emery said. “Every (touchdown), I’m thinking about the next one.”
The Wildcats jumped ahead 17-0 on Emery’s 10-yard touchdown run, then recovered a Terrebonne fumble to seemingly take full control early in the fourth quarter. But Anthony Ruffin gave the Tigers life on his 100 yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 17-6.
Destrehan answered via Emery’s 36-yard touchdown run. He and Terrebonne quarterback Jakhi Douglas would trade scores down the stretch for the 31-14 final.
It was perhaps Emery’s best performance in a season of great ones, given the stakes and situation.
“He’s special. Teams always put eight in the box to try and stop him … he’s tough for the first guy to bring down and once he gets into the secondary, he’s really special,” Robicheaux said. “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Destrehan will welcome a Zachary team to town next week that many touted before the playoffs as a favorite to reach the Superdome and that has already eliminated one St. Charles Parish team this postseason, toppling Hahnville in round two.
Emery and a number of teammates have experience in the state semifinals, part of Destrehan’s postseason run two years ago.
“I know what we’ve got to do to get to the Dome. I’m gonna give all I’ve got and I know everyone on our team is gonna give all they’ve got,” Emery said.