DENHAM SPRINGS – Denham Springs fell behind in the first quarter, came back in the second quarter, and kept it close in the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, reigning two-time Class 5A state champion Zachary proved too much in a District 4-5A meeting.
Another footnote was added to Denham Springs’ long 2019 campaign Friday, this one a 41-13 setback against Zachary which resulted in the Jackets’ fourth straight loss.
After falling behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, Denham Springs (1-6, 0-2 in district) made it 14-10 when quarterback Luke Lunsford found receiver Hayden Horne for a 24-yard touchdown strike with 4:58 to go before halftime.
The No. 9 Broncos (4-2, 2-0) added another touchdown before the break, but the teams swapped field goals in a low-scoring third quarter that kept the game close entering the fourth.
But the Broncos, led by star quarterback Keilon Brown, erased any hopes of a DSHS comeback with two back-breaking touchdowns in the final nine minutes of the game.
Despite his team’s sixth loss in seven games this season, DSHS coach Bill Conides said he was proud of his team’s “fight” against a tough opponent and expressed confidence that the Jackets will be able to salvage their season.
“(Zachary is) really good, but ultimately I loved our character and fight,” Conides said. “Just have to keep it up and try to get one next week.”
For the Yellow Jackets, the game was likely lost in the first quarter, when they finished with more penalty yards (10) than total yards of offense (minus-3). The Broncos, who racked up 142 yards of first-quarter offense, took advantage with Brown connecting on touchdown passes of 43 yards and 48 yards to Chris Hilton and Jayden Williams, respectively.
Denham Springs didn’t pick up its first new set of downs until its first drive of the second quarter, which ended with a Cameron Beall 38-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with 8:48 to go before halftime.
After forcing Zachary into a rare three-and-out on the next series, DSHS marched 68 yards down the field on nine plays on the ensuing drive, one that ended with Lunsford faking a handoff and finding an uncovered Horne in the back of the endzone to pull the home team within four points.
But Zachary quickly regained momentum, eating up 80 yards on a 10-play drive that was highlighted by Hilton’s tough catch against tight coverage for a 6-yard score, which gave the Broncos a 21-10 lead at the break.
The defense for both teams picked up in the third quarter, with the Jackets and Broncos yielding one field goal each that made it 24-13 entering the fourth.
But that’s when the Broncos crushed the spirits of Denham Springs, first when Brown took a zone-read play 51 yards up the gut for a score followed by offensive lineman Colin Charlet recovering a fumble in the endzone for another score.
The Broncos finished with 431 yards of total offense, with Brown accounting for 320 (213 passing, 107 rushing) of that total. On the other side, the Jackets could only muster 174 yards of offense (3.2 yards per play), including minus-4 yards on the ground.
Despite their third straight loss by at least 28 points, Conides praised his team for never giving up and hopes to get the same effort next week against cross-town rival Live Oak.
“The character, attitude and effort were awesome,” Conides said. “Let’s go get it next week.”
Zachary 41, Denham Springs 13
Score By Quarters
Zachary 14 7 3 14 - 41
DSHS 0 10 3 0 - 13
ZHS – Chris Hilton 43 pass from Keilon Brown (Logan Fletcher kick)
ZHS – Jayden Williams 48 pass from Brown (Fletcher kick)
DSHS – FG. Cameron Beall 38
DSHS – Hayden Horne 24 pass from Luke Lunsford (Beall kick)
ZHS – Hilton 6 pass from Brown (Fletcher kick)
DSHS – FG. Beall 33
ZHS – FG. Fletcher 28
ZHS – FG. Fletcher 25
ZHS - Brown 51 run (Fletcher kick)
ZHS - Colin Charlet 1 run (Fletcher kick)
First downs 18 9
Rushes-yards 28-218 26-(minus-4)
Passing yards 213 178
Passes 13-24-0 13-28-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-60 9-60
Punts-yards 4-27.7 9-39.4