For the first time this season, Destrehan found itself in a tight game early in the second half, locked in a scoreless tie with an inspired Thibodaux team.
Then Daniel Blood took the wheel, and made a hard turn in Destrehan’s favor.
His punt return for a touchdown was the first of his two third quarter touchdowns and was exactly the spark Destrehan needed as it surged from there, earning a 35-0 victory on the road to finish the regular season unbeaten.
“We talked about how games (in the playoffs) are going to be way harder, and that we’re going to have to pick it up, dominate and show how good we are,” Blood said. “Our coaches prepare us every day to just be ready for the moment.”
Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott credited Thibodaux for bringing a strong effort on what was the school’s senior night and homecoming.
“Thibodaux deserves a lot of credit … they brought a lot of energy. And we honestly needed this, a game that we were going to have to play into the fourth quarter. We haven’t played into the fourth all season. So, it was good for us. And we made some plays in the second half to kind of pull away. But they deserve a lot of credit.”
Blood’s big third quarter nearly turned into an enormous second half from a scoring standpoint – he came up just a couple of yards short from taking a second punt to the house, but Destrehan (6-0, 6-0) cashed in on the big return for a score nonetheless.
After Destrehan punted on its first possession of the second half, Thibodaux converted the first third down of its own on an Ean Rodrigue pass to Caden Brown. But Destrehan’s defense held firm from there and forced a punt.
That sprung Blood into action, who shook loose from the pursuing defenders and raced down the sideline, breaking away for the first points of the night to make it 7-0.
“Shout out to my blockers, I saw them set it up for me. Without them I wouldn’t have scored. They set it up and I just did what I’m coached to do,” Blood said.
Thibodaux (3-4, 3-3) attempted to answer but Patrick Rojas got through on a blitz to sack Rodrigue on a third down play, shorting out that drive. That pinned Thibodaux back and Blood fair caught the ensuing punt at the THS 45.
“(Rodrigue) is the key. He’s a really good player, and they had a good scheme. We had to adjust a few things at halftime,” Scott said.
Starting off with great field position, the Wildcats made it count. Jai Eugene rifled a pass downfield to Calvin Bullock, who made an impressive contested catch at the 10-yard line. Moments later, Eugene rose up to pass again, this time finding Blood just inside the pylon for a 10-yard touchdown pass to double the lead, 14-0.
In the fourth quarter, Blood returned a punt to the Thibodaux 3-yard line before Shane Lee punched it in to make it 21-0.
“It’s three phases, right?” said Scott. “And that’s something we work on a lot. The staff did a good job preparing the kids, and we were able to put some stuff together in the second half.”
From here, a Destrehan offensive line that’s punished team’s all season began to break down what had been a terrific effort by the Thibodaux defense for most of the night. The dam broke when Brandon Freeman popped loose for a 45-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0. Trey Nixon nearly followed suit on Destrehan’s next possession, falling just short of the endzone following a big gain, and Eugene scored on a keeper a play later to push Destrehan to 35 points.
With round one of the playoffs a week away, Destrehan will enjoy this victory momentarily before shifting focus to the next phase. But with the regular season concluded, Scott reflected on the District 7-5A season as a whole – each of the teams in this district, be it from St. Charles, St. John or Terrebonne parish, saw their home area leveled by Hurricane Ida. But though that was the case, Friday marked the completion of a full district schedule for each of its seven teams.
“The fact that Thibodaux and the rest of the teams in our district were able to field teams and play football says a lot about them, and it says a lot about our district in terms of what these guys do for kids,” Scott said. “It’s something I can appreciate on a professional level, and I wish everyone the best of luck.”
BY THE NUMBERS: Destrehan has outscored its opponents, collectively, 257-34 this season.
-The 34 points allowed comes out to just 5.6 points allowed per game, or less than a touchdown. The Wildcats’ once-again suffocating defense has allowed five touchdowns in total this season and no field goals.
-Destrehan’s 6-0 record and district crown could have the Wildcats as a top five seed when the postseason bracket is announced this weekend. One thing is for sure right now, however: Destrehan will be playing at home next Friday night.