Déjà vu all over again brings more heartache to Green Devils

Tryve Brackin

Déjà vu is a French word for “already seen”. And, in the profound baseball terms of Yogi Berra, Plaquemine High’s Green Devils had “déjà vu all over again” Friday night in Brusly.

All it brought with it was more heartache, pain, frustration, and a second-straight defeat by less than four points, a third-straight by less than nine points, and a fourth-straight of a football season that is becoming profoundly befuddling to a group of kids who are capable of better results.

In the matter of ten seconds of football of the final 36 seconds of the game, the PHS Green Devils went from tossing the District 9-3A opener into overtime to a heartbreaking 29-27 loss. The Devils, in a touch of mascot irony, looked like the New Orleans Saints only four nights early on Monday Night Football…The better gridiron team whipping itself…Déjà vu all over again!

Want more? How about former Saints Head Coach Jim Mora’s famous quote: “Woulda, coulda, shoulda!” That works for the Green Devils as well. The Green Devils might not have evidentially won the game in overtime, but they woulda, coulda, shoulda had a shot at doing so…Déjà vu all over again!

Brusly High certainly is not the best 4-1 football team in Louisiana prep football, but they likely were the luckiest Friday night. The ball bounced their way numerous times during the course of the game and the referees flags dropped like yellow rain on four of eight plays to keep PHS bottled up deep in its own territory late in the final period. During that stretch a pass interference was stunningly missed by the same officiating crew. Of course, there is a flipside. PHS coulda made all of those penalty mistakes, just like a huge mistake at the end of the game cost them the game.

FINAL SECONDS:

Green Devil senior backs Ryan Travis and Desmond Fernandez teamed up to knock away a pass attempt to the end zone, giving PHS the ball on downs at their own 25-yard line with less than a minute to play and the score tied at 27-27. On the first play from scrimmage, Travis fumbled away the ball as it lucky bounced right into the possession of a Panther defender. With 36 seconds left to play, the turnover handed Brusly’s offense the golden opportunity to win the game. And the Panthers went for it. BHS quarterback Chet Simoneaux put one up and into the end zone. And, along came a PHS defensive back swooping in to pick off the pass for a score-stopping interception. All the Green Devil defender had to do was put his knee to the ground and the game goes into overtime. Instead, he attempted to run the ball out of the end zone, got out by a yard or so, and then moved back in. He was nailed for a safety by Brusly’s Darrell Jones…two points, ball game…Brusly wins.

It was a very interesting end to a very interesting game, if you like offensive football. It will be a game that will go down in the annals of PHS-Brusly football, which has not really been that memorable, until now, mainly because, other than one playoff game a long time ago, Plaquemine has dominated the meetings.

Frustrated and dejected, the Green Devils returned to work in preparation for tomorrow (Friday) night’s hosting of another West Baton Rouge Parish neighbor and 9-3A rival Port Allen High. And, when the Green Devils do so, they will be a game behind their 2007 record of two victories despite fielding an improved ball club this season. Plaquemine had the game in the bag with an early 13-0 lead and they let the hosting Panthers off the hook with defensive mistakes time and time again.

PHS TAKES EARLY LEAD:

Riding a 29-point scoring average their last two outings, the Green Devil offense seemed to take control of the game from the outset. For the second game in a row, the PHS offense clicked big on its first play from scrimmage. The week before senior back Albert Battiste ran untouched for 75 yards and a TD in the Devils’ 30-27 loss to 4-A Tara. This time around it was QB Ryan Travis. Showing off the tremendous quickness that lured Tulane to his door for a scholarship, the Green Devil senior weaved his way through the Panther defense and went 58 yards for a touchdown before Brusly fans could finish their first glass of lemonade.

After nailing the BHS offense in its tracks, PHS got the ball back and marched right back to pay dirt. Runs by Travis and a personal foul flag on the BHS defense got the Green Devils into scoring position. Travis let one fly to the right corner of the end zone and PHS receiver Sean Thompson out-maneuvered a Panther defender to come back to the ball for a 30-yard TD grab. Eliot James hit the PAT and PHS led 13-0.

More than one or two football speculators expected this to happen ladies and gentlemen. PHS entered the district opener with a 0-3 record against three teams that were much better than any Brusly had faced en route to its 3-1 start. The Green Devils entered the 9-3A opener renewed with hope and desire to end their heartbreaking trio of losses. It was Green Devil time in Brusly many thought. But doomed to bad luck and misery were the Green Devils. On the second play from scrimmage, BHS back Marion Reed slipped behind a PHS secondary player and grabbed a pass on the run from Simoneaux for a 70-yard TD. The lemonade drinkers on the PHS side of the field suddenly got a touch of upset stomach (and it wasn’t from the delicious lemon-y concoction).

GAME CHANGES:

It was an interesting game. Things did not immediately turn on PHS, thanks in part to the heroics of Ryan Travis. The Green Devil “Green Wave” swept in to nab an errant Simoneaux pass and the PHS senior was off to the races to put his club back into scoring position before Brusly could really get into celebration over its cut into their neighbors’ lead.

Here was the explosive PHS offense with a first and ten at the BHS 15 and a 13-6 lead in their pocket. The Green Devils moved inside the Panther 10 and all looked good. Plaquemine could have put the game away at that point. Panther fans would have started talking about wrestling up in the stands and all the moons and stars in the sky could have been in perfect alignment. But the Green Devils cannot move the football closer. They give the ball up on downs at the 6-yard line. Suddenly, the momentum changes with the goal line stand. The exciting first quarter finally comes to an end and Brusly’s offense goes on the march.

Plaquemine’s defense cannot stop the run. Brusly rolls down the field to score on a nifty 23-yard drive capper by Darrius Jackson. BHS hits the PAT and the game is tied at 13-13. It would be tied again.

A run by Travis and then a huge screen pass play to Battiste helps the Green Devil offense overcome a couple of penalty flags and the Plaquemine boys move down the field to retake the lead at 19-13. The score comes on a great razzle-dazzle play that even BHS Head Coach Erik Willis had to have enjoyed. It starts as an end around handoff to wide receiver Reggie Travis, who stops, turns, and throws the ball back to his cousin, Ryan Travis, who gathers in the pass and romps 40 yards for the score with 2:08 left to halftime.

BRUSLY LEADS AT HALF:

The PHS offense proves a joy to watch, but the defense is a heartbreaker. Before halftime break hits, the Brusly offense strikes. O’Bryant Carline breaks free for a 35-yard run around the left side of the PHS defense. Were it not for a bone-crushing slam by the “Green Devil Green Wave”, Carline could have rapped up the lead on the play. Instead it takes a pass to Darrell Jones, a short QB sneak by Simoneaux, and a Eric Buckholtz PAT togive Brusly a 20-19 halftime lead.

The third quarter boils down to the PHS defense giving it up and the PHS offense tying it up. An opening kickoff return by Carline sets up a short scoring drive by Brusly. Simoneaux and Carline get key runs on the drive and the latter gets the final give for a 3-yard TD run. Brusly goes up 27-19.

Plaquemine’s offense answers. Damarcus Watts makes a pair of huge first-down catches and that opens the door for the running game. Battiste and the PHS line respond with a beauty of a 15-yard TD run. Travis passes to Thompson for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 27-all and the rest is history.

Brusly led in total offense for the night 384 yards to 267 yards.