Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dupont, West St. John see storybook run end at hands of South Plaquemines


Sports Editor

West St. John’s season and the run of Rams Coach Laury Dupont came to an end Saturday afternoon.

South Plaquemines’ explosive offense lived up to its billing, as the Hurricanes emerged from their clash with West St. John a 48-8 winner and the champions of Class 1A.

Dupont, retiring after 35 years of coaching, did not get to add to a fourth championship to an impressive resume that includes 208 career wins, thanks in large part to one very valuable commodity that the Hurricanes’ possessed.

“Speed kills,” Dupont said. “We have good team speed on our side, but not enough to match up with them.”

The Rams truly had no answer for the electric Ridge Turner, the South Plaquemines (13-2) quarterback who passed for 197 yards and two scores and rushed for 108 yards with two more.

West St. John (9-6) carried a nine game win streak into the game, winning a series of contests in which it dominated the line of scrimmage. Against South Plaquemines, this was not the case – the Rams averaged under three yards a carry, a problem that was heightened when south Plaquemines established an early lead.

“We underestimated their strength,” Dupont said. “We thought we could win in the trenches. They won in the trenches.”

Said Hurricanes Coach Cyril Crutchfield: “We felt like the strength of our defense was how stout we were against the run. We expected them to pound the rock, and we felt it played into our strength.”

West St. John started the game with a bang, though. The Rams’ Blake Comminie recovered a Turner fumble at the Hurricanes’ 28. Three plays later, Rams quarterback Dray Joseph found Jesse Silas downfield for a 15-yard score at the 10:32 mark of the first quarter. After a Joseph pass to Kenneth Dabney was good for a two-point conversion, the Rams led 8-0.

The Rams defense would again come up big, as Terrance Nathan intercepted Turner on the ensuing South Plaquemines possession.

But it would be the last costly mistake Turner would make in the game.

After the Hurricane defense forced a punt, Turner scored from 56-yards away on a sweep to make it 8-6. A Lyle Fitte two-point rushing conversion tied the game.

From that point on, the South Plaquemines offense known for topping 60 and 70 points in games this year went to work. Fitte would cap off an 8-play, 43-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 14-8 late in the first quarter.

On the Hurricanes’ first possession of the second quarter, Turner would score a 4-yard rushing touchdown to make it 20-8. The two-point try failed.

West St. John drove down to the Hurricanes’ 31 on its next drive, but Joseph’s pass was intercepted by Tray Stewart at the 15.

On the very next play, Turner found Fitte deep for a 68-yard score. His two point rushing attempt was good to make it 28-8.

South Plaquemines would add one more score before halftime, a 2-yard Fitte touchdown following a Rams turnover, to effectively end the Ram threat.

“You can’t spot an offense like that one touchdown, let alone two,” Dupont said.

“We knew that we had to respect that team coming in,” said Rams running back Romell Howard. “We felt that we could have played with them, but we lost the momentum early on.”

Tyler Lewis led the Rams in rushing with 28 yards. Howard, who had been on fire this postseason, was held to 27.

South Plaquemines outgained West St. John 388-89.

Dupont, and his players, said that the loss stung, particularly that it was the coach’s last game on the Ram sideline.

“I really wanted him to go out with a win, to go out with a bang, instead of a loss, especially how we lost” said Joseph.

But Dupont had a parting message for those who followed his career with West St. John – there were plenty of good times to remember.

“I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life,” said Dupont. “This was a great chapter to be a part of it. I love West St. John.”