No. 6 seed Rams take advantage of White Castle's mistakes in regionals

PETER SILAS PASQUA news@postsouth.com
White Castle's Tyrie Lang rushes for an 11-yard gain ahead of the blocking of Marcellis Coleman in the third quarter of the Bulldogs' 48-12 Class 1A regional playoff loss to West St. John on Friday night. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

EDGARD - West St. John scored on six of seven possessions beginning with three minutes remaining in the first half to blow open a close ball game and claim a 48-12 Class 1A regional playoff victory over White Castle on Friday night at Rudolph G. Dinvaut Stadium.

The No. 6 seed Rams (8-4), the District 9-1A champion and last season's state runner-up, outgained White Castle in total yardage just 304-284 but won the turnover battle 3-1 and returned two kicks for touchdowns on special teams. The 11th seeded Bulldogs (9-3), the district runner-up who fell to the West St. John 41-22 earlier in the season in a league matchup in Edgard, ran 67 total plays to their opponents' 38.

"We are still lacking some of that savvy that we need to have to play against good football teams with the experience, talent and depth that they have," White Castle coach Lamar Thomas said.

"A great football team like that is going to force you to make mistakes. Any little mishap or sense of panic are signs of an immature football team and the wheels just fell off. The last couple of games we have just been kind of running on fumes with injuries and kids playing out of position. We are not there, yet."

Kylum Favorite led West St. John with 128 yards rushing and two touchdowns on nine attempts. Jeremy Jackson added 84 yards and a score on 13 attempts and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.

Ram quarterback Austin Howard completed 8-of-10 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns to Timothy Nelson and Keith Miller. Justin Bethancourt also returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown and Anfernee Lumar converted 3-of-4 point after touchdown kicks.

Kylon Adams had an interception and fumble recovery and Dontre Turner recovered another. Brandon Matthews had a sack and Eric Bell had two tackles for loss.

"We have a little bit more depth and the game plan going in was to wear them down as much as we could because I knew they were going to give us everything they had," West St. John coach Robert Valdez said. "It is big to have outstanding special teams and defense in the playoffs and you want to make sure you capitalize on all of those things."

Bulldog quarterback Chris Major rushed for 47 yards and one touchdown on 11 attempts while completing 2-of-9 passes for 26 yards and one interception.

Daryl Young led White Castle with 116 yards on 16 carries including a 75-yarder. Tyrie Lang added 45 yards on 12 attempts and Dontrell Taylor had 41 yards on 17 totes.

Reserve quarterback Jacory Jones scored on a 1-yard run for his only carry and Robert Franklin had one reception for 21 yards.

Gregory Jordan recovered a fumble on defense and Andre Prevost had a sack. Marcellis Coleman and Daniel Edwards each had tackles for loss.

"Nobody expected us to win more than three or four ball games and here we are two rounds into the playoffs," Thomas said. "That is a great accomplishment. The seniors showed great leadership and the more success they had, the more it meant to them. It was a real good ride and hopefully the younger guys got a good taste in their mouth and will want to get back after it again next year."

Major's 1-yard sneak answered West St. John's opening score to cap a 19-play, 75-yard drive that included a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt by Prevost that gave the Bulldogs a first down. Young was stopped on the conversion to leave the score 8-6 with five minutes remaining in the first half.

Jackson's 7-yard run finished off the Rams' ensuing 5-play, 73-yard drive following a 44-yard run across midfield and 24-yard reception by Morell Bartholemew on third down to increase West St. John's lead to 14-6 with 3:03 left in the half.

Matthew's 8-yard sack stymied the Bulldogs' next series and Bethancourt returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown. Jimmy Conner's kick made it 21-6 one minute and 54 seconds later.

Adams returned an interception 40 yards two plays later following Franklin's catch and run across midfield but the Bulldogs' defense bowed when Prevost sacked Howard for a 4-yard loss and Edwards hit Jackson for a 1-yard loss on the final play of the half from the White Castle 1.

The Rams won the coin toss but deferred till the second half when Jackson returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Lumar's kick increased the lead to 28-6 14 seconds into the third quarter.

Favorite went up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown one play after Adams recovered a fumble just a minute later.

Howard's 4-yard touchdown pass to Nelson capped the Rams' next 5-play drive with 7:41 left in the third quarter after Turner recovered another fumble at the Bulldog 18.

White Castle drove to the Ram 9 on the next possession behind Young's burst but Bell hit him for a 5-yard loss on fourth down.

Favorite's 12-yard run capped West St. John's ensuing 8-play drive after a 37-yard jaunt across midfield to make it 48-6 with 11:52 remaining in the game.

Jones' 1-yard sneak reflected the final tally with 29.7 seconds remaining to cap a 10-play, 41-yard drive following Jordan's fumble recovery.

The Bulldogs drove into West St. John territory on the opening possession of the game but stalled. The Rams recovered the subsequent muffed punt at the their own 10 but only managed to reach the White Castle 43 on their first series.

Howard's 11-yard pass to Miller cracked the scoreboard with 1:35 left in the first quarter after a White Castle punt went haywire giving the Rams the ball inside the red zone.

West St. John moves on to face No. 3 seed Vermilion Catholic in the quarterfinals.