Playing to win: No. 6 Green Devils use quick start to hold off Southern Lab, Maracalin ecplises 1,000-yard mark
BATON ROUGE - Plaquemine Senior High School used a quick start that provided plenty of distance to hold off a fourth quarter surge by Southern Lab in a 49-28 non-district victory on Thursday night at Louisiana Leadership's Doug Williams Stadium.
The Green Devils (4-1), ranked No. 6 in the Louisiana Sportswriter's Association Class 4A poll, scored on six of its first seven possessions to build a 28-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Plaquemine outgained the Kittens (0-5) 446-265 in total yardage with 271 yards coming on the ground.
"We are not satisfied," Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said. "I wish we could have done a better job on defense as far as closing out the game. Southern Lab never quit and fought hard for four quarters just like we expected. We just have to get better in all three phrases of the game."
"It is always good to take an early lead. It allowed us to loosen up the offense a little bit. We have been relying on our running game so I was proud of the fact that we were able to spread the ball around and did a better job in our passing game."
Plaquemine senior fullback Julius Maracalin, the state's leading rusher going into the game, rushed for three touchdowns and 132 yards on 24 carries to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Maracalin, who is coming off a knee injury that cut his junior season short, now has 1,026 yards just five games into the season on a workmanlike 150 carries.
"He is a big part of our offense," Distefano said. "He has a lot of heart and runs angry. He gets some tough yards and then busts loose. I would like to cut down on his carries but we are playing to win. He never complains and can handle it."
Green Devil quarterback D'Morea Wicks completed 6-of-7 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown and added 78 yards rushing and one touchdown on eight attempts.
Louis "Trey" Conerly caught a touchdown reception and threw a touchdown pass, while Joseph "Joe" Keller added a touchdown reception.
Tyler Wesley added 26 yards and one touchdown on four attempts and Preston Russ had 22 yards on six carries. Damion Oubre had four catches for 34 yards and Austin Mitchell had a 34-yard reception.
Orlando "O.J." Batiste recovered a fumble and had a tackle for loss, Trevor Jones had a sack and Chazz Edwards and Justin Stewart had tackles for loss. Austin LeJeune connected on seven point after touchdown attempts.
"They are a fantastic team," Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. "They have big, strong athletes out there and they are battle-tested."
Kitten quarterback Bladrick Veal completed 26-of-42 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Derrick Pate had 10 receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns and Tevis Abraham caught seven passes for 93 yards and one touchdown.
De'Monte Lang rushed for 49 yards on 11 attempts and Michael Henderson rushed for a touchdown.
Plaquemine's first possession began on the Kitten 15 following a bad snap in punt formation and Maracalin punched it in four plays later from 1 yard with 8:51 left in the first quarter.
The Green Devils only needed five plays to cover 93 yards on their next possession when Wicks rolled right and connected with Conerly for a 59-yard touchdown catch and run to push the lead to 14-0 with 4:12 left in the quarter.
Batiste recovered the ensuing squib kick at the Kitten 43 and Wicks weaved and waltzed 44 yards into the end zone on a designed keeper on fourth and long to make it 21-0 less than two minutes later.
Maracalin capped the Green Devils' 12-play, 58-yard drive four possessions later by stepping into the end zone from 1 yard. Wicks' 20-yard run pushed the ball across midfield and LeJeune's kick made it 28-0 with 3:57 left in the first half.
"We try to jump on everybody early in the game," Maracalin said. "It is not easy but at the same time, the line helps me out a lot. It all starts in the offseason running in sand pits."
Henderson's 1-yard run capped the Kitten's ensuing 12-play, 72-yard drive but Jaron Hooks stopped him on the conversion to leave the score 28-6 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Conerly connected with Keller on a 5-yard touchdown completion on the Green Devils' opening possession of the second half to push the lead to 35-6 with 8:11 left in the third quarter after the duo hooked up for a 38-yard gain across midfield.
Maracalin's 7-yard rumble finished off Plaquemine's next 4-play, 42-yard drive to give the Green Devils an insurmountable 42-6 lead with 7:15 still remaining in the third.
Veal then caught fire and threw touchdown passes to Abraham and Pate on the Kitten's next two possessions to cut the deficit to 42-20 with 11:31 left to play.
Wesley's 7-yard run capped the ensuing 7-play, 62-yard drive to answer but Veal would add another touchdown pass to Pate with 1:50 left to play after Jones' 7-yard sack halted the Kittens on their previous possession.
Plaquemine hosts Zachary on Friday night at Andrew Canova Stadium.