Bulldogs chomp Warriors, advance to semifinals
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Through 11 weeks of play, Amite had not lost a single football game entering the Class 3A state quarterfinals. In fact, the Warriors hadn’t even been challenged, defeating their opponents by an average of 26.1 points per game.
Lutcher wasn’t fazed.
The No. 6 seeded Bulldogs escaped with a rare victory at No. 3 Amite on Friday night, winning 30-22 and securing a slot in the state semifinals.
“This was like a heavyweight fight,” said Lutcher Coach Tim Detillier. “This game didn’t disappoint anyone. There’s so much tradition between both schools, and for 48 minutes each player left it all on the field.
“To come here and play like we did, where (Amite) has won so many games…I can’t say enough about the Lutcher Bulldogs tonight.”
Lutcher will host Cecilia in a state semifinal game on Friday night.
Lutcher (10-2) kept the ball on the ground, rushing 48 times for 275 yards. Long known for generating big plays for scores, the Bulldogs contrarily scored each of its touchdowns from inside the Amite (11-1) 5-yard line.
Detillier said he suspected early in the week that his team would have to grind it out in a way it hadn’t done before.
“We challenged our offensive line on Monday,” said Detillier. “Before we ever set foot on the practice field, we knew that we needed their best game of the season. And did they ever answer the call.”
LHS quarterback Gavin Webster led the way with his legs, rushing 27 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“We dug in hard,” Webster said. “I remembered last season, playing safety when we lost to Redemptorist in the playoffs. I remembered that hurt feeling, kept it in the back of my mind. I knew I had to lead the troops.”
Lutcher never trailed in the game, though the result was in question until the Bulldogs recovered Amite’s last gasp onside kick attempt with 1:50 left in the game.
“It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but we thought it was important to get out ahead early,” Detillier said. “They hadn’t played even a close game this year. We were hoping that would take them a bit out of their gameplan.”
Amite rushed for 222 yards in the game behind two 100-yard rushers. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell ran nine times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Jermil Perkins added 100 yards on 17 carries.
Mitchell also completed 9-of-18 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions, each at the hands of Lutcher’s Frederick Thomas.
Thomas’ first interception set the Bulldogs up on the Amite 40 to begin their second possession of the night. Two big plays by Jarvis Landry set up the game’s first points. A Landry 20-yard run on a third down-and-10 put Lutcher on the 20. Then, at the 16, a slip-screen pass from Webster to Landry at netted 15 yards. Webster scored on a draw from the 1 to make it 6-0 with 3:48 left in the first quarter. After an Amite penalty, Webster ran another draw for a 2-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Amite responded on its next drive. Mitchell capped a six-play drive at the 2:23 mark of the first with a 5-yard score, set up by a 48-yard off tackle run by Perkins. Mitchell’s two-point pass to Darien Henderson tied the game.
With 4:56 left in the first half, Webster put his team ahead 14-8 on his second touchdown run, this time a 4-yarder set up by his third down conversion pass to Shane Naquin. He’d find Naquin again for the two-point conversion to make it 16-8.
Lutcher nearly made it a two score game at the end of the first half. With 3.1 seconds left, Webster threw to Landry in the endzone, drawing a pass interference flag.
Landry just missed a catch on the next attempt, but interference was again called, putting the ball on the 3 with no time left. A third and final attempt to Landry was caught — but it was ruled out of bounds, ending the half.
But Landry did cash in at the beginning of the third quarter, capping a 10-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard score, making it 23-8.
Amite drove 81 yards and scored when Mitchell found Damien Bazeley for a 27-yard touchdown on a scramble and dump off, but Amite missed the extra point, keeping Lutcher ahead by two scores.
Landry capped Lutcher’s final scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown with 2:18 remaining, but a 68-yard Mitchell run set up a quick Amite scoring strike 28 seconds later. The two-point conversion left the door open for Amite, if it could recover an onside kick.
But Thomas made one more play, recovering it and clinching the Lutcher victory.
“He was on the ’06 championship team,” Detillier said. “He can smell it, and that’s why you see him making the plays.”