On the loose: No. 7 Green Devils, Maracalin grind through, past Jennings

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua
Plaquemine's Julius Maracalin breaks free on a 75-yard touchdown against Brusly earlier in the season. Maracalin rushed for 275 yards and four touchdown on 35 carries in the No. 7 Green Devils' 28-26 non-district victory over Jennings on Friday night at Andrew Canova Stadium.

PLAQUEMINE - Plaquemine Senior High School got four touchdowns and 275 yards yards rushing from senior running back Julius Maracalin, the state's leading rusher, to turn away Jennings 28-26 on Friday night in a non-district battle at Andrew Canova Stadium.

The Green Devils (3-1), ranked No. 7 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 4A poll, outgained the Bulldogs (1-3) in total yardage 374-307 with 342 of it coming on the ground.

"I am just happy to get the victory," Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said. "We knew Jennings has a great program and would not quit. They came back and made it interesting at the end.

"We turned the ball over twice in the first half and missed a lot of opportunities in the passing game. We regrouped at halftime and I thought offensively we got things going. It was a great team effort but we have a long way to become a better team."

Maracalin capped the night with a 53-yard rip and rumble touchdown run straight up the gut with 2:16 left to play. Austin LeJeune's point after touchdown kick put the Green Devils ahead 28-19.

"Julius is definitely a workhorse," Distefano said. "He turned it on in the second half and has carried the work-load all season long."

Curtis Bell capped the ensuing Jennings' possession with a 1-yard run following Kaleb Chaisson's completions to Brance Baca-White and Taylar Joseph for first downs. Seth Cox's kick reflected the final tally with 1:26 left to play.

The ensuing onside kick went backwards and the Green Devils ran out the clock for victory. Plaquemine is playing without defensive end Davon Godchaux, who suffered a season ending knee injury in the Green Devils' opener at East Ascension.

"We have been through a lot of adversity," Distefano said. "We lost one of the most highly recruited defensive lineman in the country in the very first quarter of season but we really haven't missed a beat.

"I am just happy that all of our guys have given their best effort through four quarters of every game. The last two years here, we started off slow. Getting off to a great start gives us a lot of confidence going into our next two games and district."

Jennings drove 65 yards on the opening possession of the game but Cox's 29-yard field goal attempt was wide right.

Green Devil quarterback D'Morea Wicks was intercepted by Malik Williams on the ensuing possession and the Bulldogs drove 53 yards in eight plays to crack the scoreboard on Lamontay Mouton's 8-yard run with 11:28 left in the first half. Bell's 18-yard reception kickstarted the drive.

Plaquemine drove to the Bulldog 35 on the next series before Sherman Gant recovered a fumble but the Green Devil defense stiffened forcing a three-and-out. The Devils held again on fourth down at the Plaquemine 22 on Jennings' next possession.

Maracalin capped the ensuing 78-yard, 12-play drive with a back and forth juke and dive from four yards. Wicks' 16-yard run kickstarted the drive before completions to Austin Mitchell and Joseph Keller for 19 and 15 yards. LeJeune's kick knotted it up 7-7 with 14 seconds remaining in the first half.

Maracalin's 3-yard burst finished off the Green Devils' opening second half 11-play, 80-yard drive. He carried nine times on the drive including a 35-yard run dragging defenders into the red zone and LeJeune's kick put Plaquemine ahead 14-7 with 7:10 left to play in the third quarter.

Jennings answered with an 11-play, 72-yard drive capped by Bell's 1-yard run. Bryan Wildridge's 19-yard scamper opened the series before Chaisson's 28-yard scramble pushed the Bulldogs into the red zone but Cox's kick was wide left leaving the score 14-13 with 2:07 left in the third.

Plaquemine drove to the Bulldog 3 on the ensuing possession but was denied. However, the Green Devils stuffed Jennings on the next series and took over at the Bulldog 27.

Five plays later, Maracalin broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and dashed into the end zone taking a look back at defenders from 17 yards. LeJeune's kick put Plaquemine ahead 21-13 with 4:15 left to play.

Ravon Levi returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to midfield and Williams came down with a 25-yard loft from Chaisson for a touchdown following Wildridge's 23-yard run but he was stuffed on the conversion to leave the score 21-19 with 2:29 left to play.

Plaquemine travels to Southern Lab on Thursday night at Louisiana Leadership's Doug Williams Stadium in Baton Rouge.