LUTCHER - Plaquemine Senior High School capitalized on four second-half turnovers by making the most of their opportunities - including a 42-yard game-winning touchdown from Julius Maracalin - to claim a 36-32 come from behind District 6-4A victory over Lutcher on Friday night at the Dawg Yard.
The Green Devils (6-2, 2-0), under coach Paul Distefano and ranked No. 7 in the Louisiana Sportswriters Association Class 4A poll, now control their own destiny in the quest to claim the school's first district title since 2002.
"It was a great team effort," Distefano said. "The only way we were able to win a game like that was because we have a bunch of unselfish kids willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. There were no negative vibes on the sideline and we stuck together and held onto the rope.
"It felt like it was us against the world. It is just a tough place to play. You feel like you have to battle the referees, the clock and the fans. I am proud of our kids. It was a great comeback. I think we came out a little nervous, which is OK because it shows that the kids care. They knew how big and important a game it was but we almost got in a hole we couldn't get out of."
Maracalin, the No. 2 ranked leading rusher in the state going into the game, finished with 215 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries.
"He doesn't get tired of carrying the ball," Distefano said. "He is a beast and can handle it but it takes more than one person to win the game. Everybody did a great job."
Green Devil quarterback D'Morea Wicks rushed for a touchdown and thew another to Louis Conerly. Brian Jordan recovered two second-half fumbles and Chazz Edwards one.
Lutcher quarterback Christian Matherne completed 9-of-15 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-1), while Dondre Semien rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
It marked Lutcher's first district loss since joining the Baton Rouge area district as the Green Devils scored the final 21 points to overcome a 32-15 deficit late in the third quarter.
Maracalin's final gallop with 2:06 remaining came two plays after Jordan's second fumble recovery which was stripped by Edwards as Plaquemine held the Bulldogs to just three first downs and 45 total yards in the second half. Austin LeJeune's point after touchdown kick reflected the final tally. Edwards recovered a fumble on the next series to seal the win.
Jordan's first fumble recovery preceded a 13-play drive capped by Wicks' 5-yard shovel pass to Conerly with 5:20 remaining. Maracalin ran in the conversion to cut the deficit to 32-29.
Wicks' 10-yard touchdown run had cut it to 32-21 with 43.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Matherne scored on a 13-yard run to open the second half following a blocked punt.
"The kids could have quit right there but everybody stuck together, the defense came up big with some turnovers and offensively, we took advantage of every opportunity," Distefano said.
Lutcher raced out to an early 12-0 lead in the first quarter on Semien's 1-yard run and Matherne's 33-yard touchdown pass to Nick Bourgeois.
Plaquemine answered on Maracalin's 36-yard jaunt with 10:45 remaining in the first half but the Bulldogs quickly struck back when Matherne connected with Destin Porter on a 91-yard scoring pass to give Lutcher a 18-7 lead.
Austin Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Lutcher 8 and Maracalin punched it in from 3 yards before hauling in the conversion pass from Wicks to cut the deficit to 18-15 with 2:09 remaining in the first half.
But Lutcher answered with 38.5 seconds to go when Semien scored on a 1-yard run and Tanner Roussel's kick put the Bulldogs ahead 25-15 at halftime.
Plaquemine hosts St. Michael the Archangel on Friday night at Andrew Canova Green Devil Stadium and wrap up the regular season at Tara.
"Our goal is to win these next two games and get ready for the playoffs," Distefano said.