Ouachita Christian ends Rams’ season in title game

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 9, 2011



They say that it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.

But sometimes, that start means all the world.

For a West St. John team filled with players making their first ever championship game appearance, the start of the game spelled almost certain doom. For an Ouachita Christian team that experienced heartbreak in the 1A title game a year ago, the experience of being in that spot before guided it to the fourth state championship in school history, as the Eagles downed the Rams 23-7 in the Class 1A championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Ouachita Christian (15-0) finished its undefeated campaign off with the crowd in large part due to a completely dominant first quarter effort that saw the Eagles outscore West St. John 17-0 and outgain the Rams 85 yards to 32. West St. John’s first four plays saw a run for loss, two sacks and a recovered fumble for a loss; it added up to minus-30.

For the game, Ouachita bottled up WSJ’s vaunted rushing attack, holding the Rams to minus-13 yards.

The Eagles scored on their first four possessions. The first came a result largely of good field position after Josh Greer’s return to the OCS 47. Braden Bristo’s 34-yard pass to Brice Gillikin helped set up an 8-yard Mark Laird touchdown run to make it 7-0.

After a 3-and-out forced Steven Brignac to punt from his own 7, OCS took over on the WSJ 41 and went to work, this time setting up a score on Bristo’s pass to Laird for 41 yards; that gave OCS a first down inside the 5 and Bristo converted on a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with a little over half of the first quarter remaining.

A second three-and-out by WSJ allowed OCS to take over one more time, this time driving from its 29 into field goal range for kicker Luke Albritton, whose 26 yard field goal made it 17-0 with less than a minute left in the first.

The Rams settled down after that, and had a chance to make a push after a momentum stealing play by Demond Pierce, who intercepted Bristo just before half and returned it to the OCS 32. Two plays later, Howard made one of the plays of the day, scrambling around for seemingly days before firing to Lawrence Williams, who caught the ball and fell into the end zone with eight seconds left before halftime to make it 17-7.

But the Rams couldn’t draw closer. WSJ got one first down on its next two drives; on the Eagles second drive, Colby Webb broke numerous tackles and the game wide open on a rumbling 32-yard run that ended up finding pay dirt, making it 23- 7 with four minutes left in the third.

WSJ coach Robert Valdez tried to spark his team with a fake punt neat midfield on a fourth and four; it came up short. And early in the fourth quarter, Ouachita made a goalline stand, stopping four times WSJ after a first and goal from the three; the final play saw a fumbled center-quarterback exchange go for a loss.

Brignac had three tackles for loss, including a sack. Dontre Turner also had three tackles for loss for the Rams (12-3).

For Ouachita, Cade Harper tallied two sacks and three tackles for loss. Four Eagles rushed for 25 yards or more, led by Webb’s 60.

Williams led the Rams with five catches and 89 yards. Howard completed nine of 22 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown; but Ouachita pressured him early and often, and the sophomore was sacked seven times.

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