Eagles avenge semifinal loss, drop Rams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sports Editor

West St. John’s dreams of a second consecutive trip to the Superdome were put to rest on Friday night — by the very team it beat to get there in 2007.

No. 2 seeded Ouachita Christian scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to bounce the Rams from the Class 1A playoffs, 53-21 in a regional round game at OCS.

The Eagles (11-1) rushed for 328 yards and outgained the Rams 429 to 221 in total offense on its way to the win.

“Their offense caught fire,” said West St. John Coach Robert Valdez. “We put ourselves in a bad situation in that third quarter, we turned it over a couple of times, and we didn’t execute. Good teams take advantage of that, and (Ouachita Christian) capitalized.”

The win allowed the Eagles to claim a bit of payback after West St. John (6-4) ended their 2007 season with a victory in the state semifinals in Edgard. OCS will travel to face No. 7 Christian Life on Friday in the quarterfinal round.

Not helping matters was the absence of quarterback Dray Joseph, who was injured early in the third quarter and had to leave the game.

“We lost our rhythm offensively,” said Valdez. “But while that hurt us a lot, it wasn’t why we lost. We were ineffective running the ball. They made us one-dimensional.”

Turnovers plagued the Rams, particularly in the second half once West St. John turned to the passing game to attempt to erase their deficit. The Rams were intercepted three times, and also lost three fumbles.

“We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win, so we took some chances,” said Valdez. “Once it was 31-15, we forced things a bit and gave them a short field. But we were trying to get back in it.”

Ouachita Christian scored the first two touchdowns of the game on a pair of runs by Jacob Davis, each within the game’s first five minutes.

Joseph cut that lead in half after he capped an eight play, 65-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles responded. Dustin Andrews capped a seven play, 75-yard drive to put his team ahead by two touchdowns again, 21-7, Then the Eagles scored again, this time via the passing game when Davis found Glenn Marshall for a 20-yard score with 2:50 remaining in the half to make it 27-7.

The Rams kept hope alive with a quick score before the half. Terrance Nathan hauled in a 55-yard touchdown from Dray Joseph with 1:10 remaining — it was the second time in three weeks Nathan would put a long score on the board right before the half. Donald Brown converted on a two-point run, and West St. John was back in business.

It wouldn’t last. Joseph was injured on the Rams’ first possession of the second half. Matt Kennedy capped a six play, 63-yard Eagles drive with a 6-yard score to make it 33-15. Then, after a Rams turnover, OCS only needed to march 12 yards to punch in another Kennedy score, this time from 5-yards away. It made it 39-15 with 34 seconds left in the quarter, and West St. John’s season was effectively over.

“They dominated the line of scrimmage,” said Valdez. “I knew we’d have to control the lines up front to have a chance. We needed to match their strength. We did to a degree at times, but they’re just a good, veteran team.”

Senior Donald Brown added a 74-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to put the final score of the season on the board for the Rams.

“Our guys took it tough, as any team would in this situation. It was a long ride back,” said Valdez. “We’ll miss our seniors. And I know we’ve got a lot of underclassman already looking forward to next season.

“I’d like to have finished stronger. But we know what we’ve got to work on in the offseason.”