No. 11 Bulldogs push past Hannan into regionals
WHITE CASTLE - White Castle overcame an early deficit to score three unanswered touchdowns and claim a 24-7 Class 1A bi-district playoff victory on Friday night at Milton "Rocky" Ourso Jr. Stadium.
The No. 11 seed Bulldogs (9-2), the District 9-1A runner-up, held 22nd seeded Hannan to under 200 yards of total offense and await a rematch with district champion and last season's state runner up, No. 6 seed West St. John (7-3) in the regionals in Edgard.
"As long as we stay alive, it just gives us more confidence and momentum," White Castle coach Lamar Thomas said. "We are just excited to have this opportunity and enjoying each day of it because nobody expected us to be at this point.
"If we can beat West St. John, the race is wide open because I see them as the favorite to win it all until somebody does. They have a talented and experienced group of kids so that makes it a tough matchup for anybody."
White Castle defeated the Rams 12-0 in the first round of the 2010 playoffs to kick off a run to the state title. West St. John bested the Bulldogs 41-22 earlier in the season in Edgard after White Castle built an early 10-point lead.
"If we want to be the best, you have to beat the best and right now they are playing like they are best," Thomas said. "We feel more comfortable about the matchup than we did the last time because we know what to expect from them. We also have a feel for the things that we may do differently. That was a trail run so now we can get straight to the meat and potatoes and focus on what we really need to do to beat them."
Daryl Young rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting and Tyrie Lang provided 120 yards and one touchdown. Dontrell Taylor added 70 yards rushing as White Castle amassed 380 yards on the ground in the loss.
"We know that a big key to our success is how well we handle our lack of depth," Thomas said. "We know the speed of their team and are more familiar with their personnel. You are not going to win a state championship without winning a game against a good quality opponent on the road."
Taylor rushed for two touchdowns in the victory over Hannan and Bulldog quarterback Chris Major converted a bootleg on a two-point conversion.
Hannan recovered an onside kick to open the contest and took the early lead on Michael Froeba's 5-yard touchdown run.
"It is the playoffs and they are going to give it all they got," Thomas said. "Whatever they think they can try and do to upset you, they are going to do it and they did. They came out swinging."
Both of Taylor's touchdowns came in the first half as White Castle built a 16-7 halftime lead after Steven Saucier's interception for the Hawks.
"They came out and did some things up front to try and keep us from running inside so we focused on taking it outside," Thomas said. "Our lineman had to take a little while to adjust to it but once we saw what they were doing and they focused on staying to their path and going through with their block instead of chasing people, we started getting a bead of what they were doing."
Froeba finished with 62 yards on 11 carries and Hawk quarterback Bruce DiMartino added 31 yards on 10 carries. Collin Becnel had two receptions for 76 yards.