West St. John overcame a slow start to defeat visiting Jonesboro-Hodge 26-6 in the Class 1A quarterfinals Friday night in Edgard.
The win improved the top-seeded Rams to 10-2 and advances West St. John to the semifinals. WSJ will host Logansport next Friday. Logansport, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Varnado 40-18.
“I think now the kids believe a little more. We have one more step to get to the (championship) game. You have to be solid this time of the year. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes and has the will and desire to win; those are the teams that will pull it out. It comes down to execution and who wants it the most,” said West St. John coach Brandon Walters.
A mistake-filled first half for the Rams led to a 6-6 tie at the break before West St. John turned things around in the second half.
“We had some fumbles, miscues and dropped balls in the first half. It wasn’t pretty but the defense played good ball and we were able to hold them off and not give up anything else until the offense was able to make adjustments and get everything going,” Walters said.
The Rams pulled the game out behind a strong running game. Kylan Duhe rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries while Nico Roy added 118 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts.
Most of the yards came in the second half.
“Those guys are some horses,” Walters said of Duhe and Roy. “The offensive line, it was the same guys out there in the second half. We were able to wear them down a little bit. They made some great blocks and big holes for those guys and those guys are some home-run hitters.”
Following a scoreless opening quarter, a 40-yard run by Dontrell Davis gave the Rams a 6-0 advantage 10 seconds in the second quarter.
The only other scoring in the first half came on a 2-yard run by Jonesboro-Hodge running back Kameron Booker at the 2:19 mark of the second quarter for the tie at halftime.
West St. John mistakes, rather than anything the Jonesboro-Hodge defense was doing, led to the low-scoring first half for the Rams, according to Walters.
“Everybody plays us the same way. They load the box and try to send pressure and disrupt what we are doing initially. It was just a lot of miscues. We had four turnovers and three came in the first half,” Walters said.
A 6-yard run by Roy at the 7:59 mark of the third quarter put West St. John on top 12-6.
The Rams added a pair of 17-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, one by Duhe and the other by Roy. A two-point conversion following Roy’s touchdown with 2:31 left in the game accounted for the final margin.