Ponchatoula holds off Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 19, 1999

PONCHATOULA – The Ponchatoula special teams,, which had struggled in the first half, came up big in the second half to lead the Green Wave to a 23-13 victory over Destrehan Friday night at “The Swamp.”Ponchatoula fumbled two kicks in the first half, setting up the Wildcats in scoring position. But in the second half, McClendon completed a 40-yardscoring pass to Deshawn Carter on a fake punt, and Aaron Arteaga set up a 35-yard field goal by Trey Giarrusso with a 52-yard punt return to hold off the Wildcats.

Ponchatoula improved to 1-2 on the season while Destrehan fell to 2-1.

Ronald McClendon had 67 yards on 19 carries for the Green Wave, including a 44-yard run in the first half, and threw a touchdown pass. Jason Ragancompleted 3-of-9 passes for 49 yards and was intercepted twice by Danny Krieger.

For the Wildcats, Ivan Mashia threw 38 times, completing 12 for 177 yards and one touchdown. He was also intercepted three times. Fred Smithcaught four passes for 111 yards. James Polk had three for 35 yards and ascore. Deron Love led the rushing game with 48 yards on 13 carries. Destrehan, which had failed to capitalize on Ponchatoula in the first half, finally did so on its second possession of the second half. Ponchatoula hadtaken over at its 44-yard line on its preceding possession after Givens fumbled a Ragan punt and Rob Burris recovered for the Green Wave. Butafter carrying for 11 yards, McClendon fumbled on his next carry. JamallJohnson picked it up for the Wildcats and returned it to the Green Wave 31.

Mashia kept the drive alive on third-and-3 at the 24 with a 11-yard pass to James Polk. Givens would take over inside the 10, carrying fourstraight times and scoring on a dive up the middle from 2 yards out.

Jonathan Scrifres’ kick was no good, leaving the score at 13-6 with 3:35 left in the third.

Ponchatoula answered on its next drive, going on a nine play, 59-yard drive that ate up 2:49 of the clock. The Green Wave appeared to be stoppedon the drive, facing fourth-and-15 from the Destrehan 40, and Ragan came in to punt. Instead, the ball was snapped to the upman, McClendon, whothrew a pass to a wide open Carter on the left side. Carter tip-toed downthe left sidelines for the score. Giarrusso added the extra point to make it20-6 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.

An interception by Johnson at the 40 and a 3-yard return gave the Wildcats a first down at their 43 early in the fourth quarter.

On second-and-11 from the 42, Mashia hit Smith oin a slant over the middle. Smith cut in and went down the center of the field before beingtrackled at the 13 after a 45-yard gain. Two plays later, Mashia rolledright and found Polk in the back of the end zone for the score. Scifresadded the extra point to bring DHS to within 20-13 with 10:12 remaining.

On the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, Arteaga took a Krieger punt at his 33, cut right, got a wall of blockers and cut in before being taken down at the 15-yard line. The Wildcats held and Giarrusso came in, knocking his35-yarder through to up the lead to 23-13 with 6:36 left.

Destrehan had its chances late, but Ryan Miller and James Livers intercepted Mashia twice in Green Wave territory to end scoring threats.

Destrehan gave up its first points of the season late in the first quarter.

Carter took a Krieger punt over his shoulder at his 9-yard line, swept left, went down the sidelines and cut in. Lucky Givens saved the touchdownwith an open-field tackle at the Destrehan 39.

But the reprieve would be temporary. On the first play after the return,Ragan found Livers streaking down the right sideline. Livers outjumped hisdefender, caught the ball at the 5 and took it in for the score. Giarrusso’skick made it 7-0 with 1:43 left in the opening quarter.

Ponchatoula got the ball right back as Chris Hogan recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Destrehan 14. One play later, Ragan swung apass to McClendon on the left side. McClendon broke a tackle and took it in.Giarrusso’s kick was blocked, leaving the score at 13-0 with 47 seconds left.

Destrehan failed to capitalize on turnovers by the Ponchatoula special teams. On the opening kickoff, Burris fumbled and Lekeith Robinsonrecovered for the Wildcats at the Ponchatoula 21. The Wildcats failed topick up a first down, however, as Mashia threw incomplete on fourth down from the 23.

Destrehan took over its third possession of the game at its 49-yard line after a 14-yard punt by Ragan. Again the Wildcats failed to move thechains as Givens was held to an 8-yard gain on a pass from Mashia on third-and-11 from the 48 and Krieger came in to punt.

Destrehan got the ball at its 45 with 7:18 left in the half as Krieger intercepted a Ragan pass at the Wildcat 25 and returned it 20 yards.

Again, the Wildcats were held as Hogan sacked Mashia for a 2-yard loss at the 43. Hogan had four sacks in the half.

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