DENHAM SPRINGS - Denham Springs found the endzone early and often in their 43-6 rout of Belaire in the District 4-5A opener for both teams Friday night.
The domination may not show up statistically, but Denham Springs rarely started a possession on its half of the field and The Yellow Jackets were unstoppable on defense for the entire first half.
Denham Springs also took advantage of special teams mistakes to get quick points and prime field position, but when they had the ball they were extremely efficient. The Jackets put up 301 yards of offense on 21 attempts for 117 rushing, while going 8 for 12 passing for 184 yards.
As prolific as the offense was, DSHS defense was equally as efficient - not allowing Belaire anything outside of two long passes. The Bengals (1-3) only registered 112 yards of total offense with 18 yards rushing and 94 passing.
“We’re here to do a job,” Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said. “And that’s build efficiency, to perfect our product. That’s our goal, to go 1-0. Regardless of who we’re playing, our focus is still the same… defensively (Belaire) was super fast, a lot faster than they were last year. So that was a really good test for our guys.”
“It was a great win,” Yellow Jackets quarterback Luke Lunsford said. “We have to shore up some things that weren’t perfect, but it was a good momentum booster heading into next week.”
Denham Springs (3-1) jumped ahead early when a blocked punt, following Belaire’s first drive, giving the Yellow Jackets the ball at the Bengals 14-yard line. Three plays later, Treveon Muse forced his way in on a five-yard score.
The following kickoff was returned all the way to the four-yard line by Chris Farley, but Belaire failed to score in the goal-to-go situation and Denham Springs inherited the ball deep in their own territory.
That didn’t slow the Jackets, as Lunsford effortlessly guided the offense downfield, punching it in himself on a one-yard keeper to cap off a 12-play, 96-yard drive.
And then, disaster struck for Belaire.
A low block call on the kickoff pinned the Bengals deep that led to a punt from their own end zone. A bad snap gave the Bengals punter no choice but to fall on the ball, resulting in a safety.
On the ensuing kickoff, DSHS' DJ Williams took the ball in the middle of the field and ran unimpeded for 62 yards.
“I though DJ Williams was phenomenal,” Conides said. “I thought all our receivers did well, but DJ was out of this world. Really, really good.”
Another blocked punt gave Denham Springs the ball on the 29-yard line. Conides immediately took a shot, and Lunsford connected with Kaleb Drummer on a toe-tapper in the back of the end zone for Jackets' fourth touchdown.
Denham didn’t get the blocked punt on the next drive, but they did get the ball on their own 43-yard line after the first and only clean punt of the game. A 22-yard pass to Drummer led to Muse’s three-yard dive.
Belaire quarterback Jamal Brown connected with Kevin Williams on an intermediate crossing route. Williams was able to turn the corner and reached the sideline and completed a 69-yard scoring play to help the Bengals avoid a shutout.
Lunsford answered on his team's next series, connecting with a wide-open Hunter Bond on a 35-yard seam route to make it 43-6 at halftime.
“When you have four guys who can go up and grab it, it’s a great feeling,” Lunsford said. “I just put it where they can catch it and they just make the play.”
DENHAM SPRINGS 43, BELAIRE 6
SCORE BY QUARTERS
BEL 0 6 0 0 - 6
DS 22 21 0 0 - 43
DS – Treveon Muse 5 run
DS – Lunsford 1 run (Ortega kick)
DS – Safety
DS – DJ Williams 62 kickoff return (Ortega kick)
DS – Lunsford 29 pass to Kaleb Drummer (Ortega kick)
DS – Muse 3 run (Ortega kick)
BEL – Jamal Brown 69 pass to Kevin Williams
DS – Lunsford 35 pass to Hunter Bond (Ortega kick)
BELAIRE DENHAM SPRINGS
5 First Downs 8
20 - 18 Rushes – Yards 21-117
94 Passing Yards 184
4 – 18 – 0 Comp – Att – Int 8 – 12 – 0
3 – 6.7 Punts – Average 0
0 Fumbles Lost 0
3 - 35 Penalties - Yards 5 – 50