There it was again.
Jump out to an early lead, use ball control offense and a smothering defense to earn a victory. No. 8 Destrehan used a similar formula as they have during much of a now seven-game win streak to defeat No. 25 Alexandria 33-14 in the first round of the 5A Playoffs Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
“It's kind of what we've been doing at the end of the year and now into the playoffs,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “Kind of got a daggone big lead, and they've got some athletes they scared us, we knew they were going to get the ball in their athlete's hands in the second half but I thought our kids played well. To hold them to 14 points I was real proud of our defense and offensively I think we kind of came out and moved the football. We kind of sputtered at times but J.R. (Blood) did a good job throwing it and we did a good job moving the football so I was kind of excited about how we played.”
One thing that didn't follow the recent trend was the offensive star of the opening series, sophomore wide receiver Joseph Washington who had a jet sweep on the first play from scrimmage, then followed with three receptions, the third of which gave Destrehan the ball at the Alexandria 1-yard line.
“We had a couple of guys out, C.B. Anderson is kind of banged up and Carl Lewis is hurt so Joe had to step up and he did a tremendous job and came up big for us tonight,” said Robicheaux.
The Wildcats took advantage of Washington's yeoman effort when Kyle Edwards followed some tremendous blocking and powered through a hole on the left side for the 1-yard touchdown run. Phillip Stratton added the extra point and the Wildcats led 7-0.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Destrehan scored again when Blood found a wide open Washington across the middle for a 23-yard touchdown and the Wildcats jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead.
From there the Destrehan defense was the story of the game, led by outstanding play from Bryce Scioneaux and Aaron Buckwalter up front on the defensive right side and Amauchechukwu Nnaji-Collins up the middle.
“You knew we had to stop the run and they did a tremendous job up front,” said Robicheaux. “(Scioneaux and Buckwalter) have been good for us all year. I thought (Nnaji-Collins) did great up the middle, linebackers played well. The key is to stop the run. Our kids played well they did a great job and we're just happy to still be playing.”
“It was just physical all night,” said Scioneaux. “We got to the ball but it was a dirty fight all night, they had speed everywhere.”
“Everybody was doing their assignments and we're coming together as a defense. We're all just doing our job and playing our part,” said Buckwalter.
Alexandria did score late in the first half when Jorien Vallien made a terrific catch in the corner of the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown recepetion from quarterback Ben Hensi to put the Trojans on the board trailing 17-7.
But Destrehan answered in emphatic fashion starting with a long kickoff return by Dontrell Smith. It set up another Blood touchdown pass, this one to tight end Carson Rieder and with 0:24 left in the first half the Wildcats led 24-7.
Fitting both Destrehan's offense AND defense would score in the second half. Early in the fourth quarter Blood tossed his third touchdown pass of the game, a 43-yard strike to Quinton Torbor who reached over an Alexandria defender to haul in a sensational touchdown catch.
“It was exciting. (Torbor) was well covered and he came up and made a big play,” said Robicheaux. “That's what guys like him need to do. It was a big play for us kind of gave us a lift gave us 31 points and I thought that was huge for us.”
After Ronal Santos pinned the Trojans back at their own 2 yard line with an excellent punt, Nolan Taliancich and Macon Clark combined on a tackle of Alexandria running back Juan Stafford in the end zone for a safety in the closing seconds to account for the final score.
Destrehan improves to 9-2 overall and will host No.9 Barbe in the second round next Friday. The Bucs are 10-1 after hammering No.24 Parkway 52-6.
And as for Destrehan's seven-game win streak?
“It's great. Coming from (losses to) Hahnville and SCC, bouncing back like that is great for our team. Our confidence level is rising every week,” said Scioneaux.
“(During the) winning streak our offense is playing better, our defense is playing phenominal. We know how it feels to lose and we don't want that feeling again.”