DENHAM SPRINGS - For the second week in a row, Denham Springs found themselves down at halftime. For the second week in a row, the Yellow Jackets demonstrated tremendous poise and confidence to come back in the second half.
Denham Springs overcame a two-touchdown deficit, scoring on its first possession of the second half, taking the lead two drives later and turning it over to the defense to close out the regular season with a 14-12 District 4-5A win Friday over Scotlandville.
“These kids play better when their backs are against the wall,” Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said. “I don’t know why, but it shows great character.”
“We come into every game and coach preaches ‘play like you’re down 14-0,’ ” Denham Springs linebacker Brennan LeBlanc said. “Play like your back (is) against the wall every single play. We started off a little slow in the first half, but we never gave up. We believe in what we’re doing. When you have a group of guys that are all pushing towards the same goal, you can come back from games like this.”
Denham Springs (6-4, 3-3 in 4-5A play) was also able to win on an evening when quarterback Luke Lunsford had a difficult outing, finishing with two completions in 14 attempts for 26 yards and an interception. Those two completions couldn’t have come at more crucial moments for the Jackets - both on fourth down. The first set up Denham’s initial score and the second officially sealed the game with less than a minute to play.
“I thought my secondary played well,” Scotlandville coach Jules Sullen said. “We saw some keys that we thought were a factor. We thought one of their receivers was a guy that kind of tipped off where the play was going so we tried to roll the coverages toward him.”
“I thought we did a great job today,” Scotlandville cornerback Nicholas Williams said. “Our secondary executed and applied pressure.”
The Yellow Jackets were able compensate, though, leaning heavily on their rushing attack and stellar defense, especially in the second half.
Denham Springs rushed for 160 yards with Treveon Muse carrying 25 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Isadore added six attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown.
The Denham Springs defense allowed only 28 total yards in the second half and 137 yards total. Scotlandville quarterback Cameron Armstead completed 14 of 19 passing, but only gained 103 yards.
Once DSHS was able to turn the game into a field position battle, the script flipped completely from the first half.
“We played pretty well, I’m not going to lie,” LeBlanc said. “Coach told us (at halftime) ‘hey man, you have to hold it down for now'. The offense was struggling and we never bickered at them. We told we got their back and they have ours. We knew if we stopped them, we would score eventually. Our offense is too good not to score. They’re going to put up points.”
“They were able to make plays in the second half and we weren’t,” Sullen said. “I think overall, we played a good game. Coming in, there were some things we thought we had to stop, but they just converted in the second half and we weren’t able to. Offensively, we didn’t get in a rhythm in the second half. So, hats off to Denham Springs.”
“The first half we played with confidence,” Hornets cornerback Williams said. “The second half we came out to try and dominate but it didn’t go as planned. We still played as a unit, and I’m still proud of them.”
Scotlandville took advantage of a Lunsford interception to put together a 9-play, 55-yard drive where Jacorey James carried the ball seven times for 23 yards and scored on a six-yard pitch to open the scoring.
With time winding down in the half, Scotlandville faced a third-and-five from its own 40-yard line. Armstead's 59-yard scramble set up a 1-yard run from James, put the Hornets up 12-0.
Lunsford picked up his first completion on his team's next drive, a timely 15-yard pass to Brycen Longley on a crucial fourth-and-four. Patrick Isadore came alive on the drive with a 14-yard gain and later, on third-and-goal from the 7-yard line, he bounced off his own lineman, redirected himself to the far pylon for an easy walk-in score for DSHS's first touchdown.
After a three-and-out on its next series DSHS got a coffin corner punt from JP Preston, backing Scotlandville up to its own 3-yard line.
That shift of field position, with the Jackets taking over on the Hornets' 29-yard line, paid off when Muse bounced off a Scotlandville defender and took it the distance to put the Yellow Jackets in front.
“Oh man, our special teams,” Conides said. “We’ve got some great guys on the punt team. Boy, it was nice…that’s the thing, we’re just trying to play a complete game. We emphasize special teams, we practice it every day of the week.”
“That was big,” LeBlanc said of the punt. “That was huge. Our punter JP is really good. He was an all-district punter last year, he was a guy that wasn’t going to play this year, but I said ‘Dude, we need a punter.’ You’re one of the best dudes out here so we need you to come punt again. Special teams did play a big role.”
DENHAM SPRINGS 14, SCOTLANDVILLE 12
SCORE BY QUARTERS
SCOT 0 12 0 0 - 12
DS 0 0 7 7 - 14
SCOT – Jacorey James 6 run
SCOT – James 1 run
DS – Patrick Isadore 7 run (Jose Ortega kick)
DS – Treveon Muse 29 run (Ortega kick)
SCOT | DS
9 First Downs 10
31 – 137 Rushes – Yards 36 – 160
103 Passing Yards 26
14 – 19 - 1 Comp – Att – Int 2 – 14 – 2
5 – 27.5 Punts – Average 4 – 36.3
0 Fumbles Lost 1