Rowan, Burke lead OCS to 28-14 win over Rebels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 9, 2000

NEW ORLEANS – The record-setting combination of Cam Rowan and Dennis Burke proved too much for the Riverside Rebels Friday night in the Class 2A state championship game in the Superdome.

Rowan and Burke combined for four touchdowns, including a Class 2A title game record 82-yard touchdown pass to lead Ouachita Christian to a 28-14 victory. The title was Ouachita Christian’s (12-3) third but its first since1997. Riverside (14-1) fell for the third time in a state championship game.”It’s tough,” Riverside head coach Mickey Roussel said. “In 1998 we were 14-0 and loss here. We were 14-0 this year and lost here. I’m confusedsometimes. I ask why. But my faith is strong enough to know things happenfor a reason. These young men gave everything they had. They have nothingto be ashamed of. They gave the program everything they had.”Burke was named the game’s outstanding player after catching five passes for a Class 2A title game record 194 yards and two touchdowns. That totalbeat the previous record of 166 yards set by John Curtis’ Frank LaBiche in 1982.

Burke also ran for 27 yards on four carries.

Rowan completed 6-of-10 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 47 yards on nine carries, including two one-yard touchdown runs. John Laird rushed 11 times for 59 yards while JoshSchmitt had 22 carries for 58 yards. The Eagles finished with 393 totalyards.

“Dennis played a fabulous game,” Ouachita Christian head coach Steven Fitzhugh said. “The line gave Cam enough time to throw and he put it right onthe money.”Brandon Delaneuville earned outstanding player honors for Riverside after rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Britt Waguespackadded 63 yards on 12 carries. Damian Melancon completed 4-of-9 passesfor 14 yards and was sacked three times. The Rebels finished with 124 totalyards.

Riverside, which had been held on offense throughout the first half in trailing 13-7, came charging out of the locker room after halftime. After stoppingthe Eagles, the Rebels took over on the Ouachita Christian 49.

On the first play from scrimmage, Waguespack went up the middle for 17 yards to the 32. Waguespack then went off right tackle for nine yards andMelancon picked up the first down with a two-yard sneak to the 20.

Delaneuville went off right tackle for 12 yards to the eight, then two plays later, swept right and cut in from seven yards out for the score. BlakeTorres added the extra point, giving Riverside back the lead at 14-13 with 6:58 left in the third quarter.

Ouachita Christian didn’t take long to answer, however, going 74 yards in six plays. On second-and-nine from the 27, Schmitt took a draw up the middlefor 16 yards to the 43. Three plays later on third-and-seven from the 46,Rowan kept the drive alive with a 16-yard run around the left side to the 38.

“We go up 14-13 and get the momentum back,” Roussel said. “We get themin two third down situations and if we stop them, who knows. But our hatsoff to them. They did what we did all year, make third down conversions andplay great defense.”Fitzhugh agreed that third down conversions were an important part of the game.

“I thought before the game that in order to be successful, defensively we could not give up the big play and on offense, get third down conversions,” Fitzhugh said.

Rowan capped the drive by finding a wide open Burke at the 15. Burkecoasted in for the score. The Eagles faked the extra point as Wayland Durrfound Brandon Allen in the right side of the end zone, giving Ouachita Christian a 21-14 lead with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

The duo of Rowan and Burke connected again early in the fourth quarter. Onthird-and-four from the Ouachita Christian 31, Rowan hit Burke slanting over the middle.

Burke cut to the right sidelines, then cut in down the middle of the field before being tripped up by Bradley Hodges at the one after a 68-yard gain.

Two plays later, Rowan snuck it in over center. Keith Andrews added theextra point, increasing the Eagles’ lead to 28-14 with 8:53 left in the game.

Riverside took over on its own 20 but Melancon was sacked on first down and the Rebels were forced to punt. Ouachita Christian then held the ball for thefinal 7:10 of the game. The eagles held a 32:38-15:22 advantage in time ofpossession in the game.

Riverside got on the scoreboard first thanks to its defense. On OuachitaChristian’s first possession from its 25, Rowan threw a pass in the left flat that was juggled, then intercepted by Ryan Bugay at the 27. Bugay took itdown the left hashmark untouched for the score. Torres added the extrapoint, giving the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 9:37 left in the first quarter.

Riverside got the ball right back as Timmy Treas hit a short, high kickoff that was fumbled by John Thomas. Neil Richard recovered for the Rebels atthe Eagles’ 35. But the Rebels gave it right back as Melancon’s pass to theleft sidelines was deflected by Chris Johnson and intercepted by Thomas at the 19. Thomas returned the ball to the 29.”Our ability to respond to ability,” Fitzhugh said of the key to the game. “Westarted with an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble.

“In the second half, they stuff us and go right down for a touchdown. But weresponded each time. We kept playing. We learned from our losses during theyear. We learned poise and we applied that tonight.” Ouachita Christian then went on a 16-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that took 8:38 off the clock. John Laird had a 13-yard run and Dennis Burke an11-yard one on the drive.

Ouachita Christian appeared to be stopped at the 30 as Andrews missed short on a 47-yard field goal but the Rebels were flagged for running into the kicker, giving the Eagles a first down at the 15.

The Eagles drove to the one where after being held twice, Rowan took it over on a sneak on fourth down. Andrew’s extra point was wide left, leaving thescore 7-6 with 42 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Delaneuville started Riverside’s next drive with a 17-yard run to the 37 but the Eagles held and the Rebels were forced to punt.

Ouachita Christian took over its next possession on its own 27. After aholding penalty pushed the Eagles back to the 18, Rowan threw to a streaking Burke on the right sidelines.

Burke caught the ball behind the defense at the 40 and outran Joel Levin down the sidelines for the score. Andrews’ extra point made it 13-7 with8:24 left in the half.

The 82-yard pass set a Class 2A championship game record, topping the old mark set by Jonesboro-Hodge’s Jesse Parks and Stevie Anderson in 1987 and Buras’ Arthur Cormier in 1991.

Ouachita Christian again threatened late in the half, moving from its 42 to the Riverside four behind a 20-yard run by Laird and 12-yard carry by Burke.

But on third-and-goal, Rowan forced a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Barret Gommel at the one. Gommel returned the ball to the15 with 1:48 remaining in the half.

The Eagles controlled the first half statistics, running 31 plays to the Rebels’ 19 and holding the ball for 15:31.

The Eagles out-gained the Rebels, 195-58, gaining 105 yards on the ground to Riverside’s 58. Delaneuville led the way for the Rebels with 43 yards onthree carries.

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