FOOTBALL

All in to win: No. 6 Green Devils advance past Franklin Parish into 4A quarterfinals

PETER SILAS PASQUA ppasqua@postsouth.com
Plaquemine's Brian Jordan, Chazz Edwards, Jaron Hooks, Khalil Harris, Quintrell Anderson, Justin Stewart and Orlando Batiste converge on a fumble in the second quarter of the Green Devils' 42-27 Class 4A regional playoff victory over Franklin Parish on Friday night at Andrew Canova Green Devil Stadium. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

PLAQUEMINE - Plaquemine Senior High School scored twice on their first six offensive plays to build an early lead and overcame a late rally by Franklin Parish to claim a 42-27 Class 4A non-select regional playoff victory on Friday night at Andrew Canova Green Devil Stadium.

The No. 6 seed Green Devils (10-2), under coach Paul Distefano, were edged in total yardage 372-362 by the 11th seeded Patriots (7-4) with both rushing exactly 44 times apiece. Plaquemine advances to the quarterfinals for the first time in over a decade and will face No. 3 seed L.B. Landry/O.P. Walker, a 34-7 winner over LaGrange, on Friday night at Pan American Stadium. The victor will face the winner of No. 2 Edna Karr and No. 7 Franklinton in the semifinals.

"We are just real happy to get out of here with a win," Distefano said. "That is a very good football team that is very big, strong and physical. We knew it was going to be a matchup of two similar teams and an old-fashioned smash mouth football game. We played well in the first half after playing so bad last week. It was back and forth early but I think the defense did a great job of making adjustments at halftime.

"We haven't exceeded my expectations. We made a tough schedule to prepare us for playoff games like this and we knew if we had a good year, we would get a good seed. Some people may be surprised but we knew we had a good team coming into the season. I feel like we don't have any individuals being selfish. Everybody is all in it to win and will do whatever it takes."

Plaquemine junior quarterback D'Morea Wicks accumulated 238 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. Wicks rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns and completed 4-of-7 passes for 71 yards and one touchdown. Green Devils senior fullback Julius Maracalin added 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

"We came out strong and stuck together when it got tough to get the job done," Wicks said. "We compliment off each other. I couldn't do it without (Maracalin). They are always drawn to him so that gives me a better chance to get a good look."

Wicks got things started for the Green Devils with a 62-yard keeper around left end down the Plaquemine sideline on the fourth play from scrimmage. Austin LeJeune's point after touchdown attempt made it 7-0 with 10:17 left to play in the first quarter.

Franklin answered with a 9-play, 76-yard drive capped by Reginald Carter's 3-yard run. Shane Jackson's kick knotted it up 7-7 with 6:30 left in the first.

Two plays later, Wicks connected with a streaking Austin Mitchell for a 46-yard touchdown catch and run and LeJeune's kick put Plaquemine ahead 14-7 just 45 seconds later.

"The touchdowns came pretty quick," Distefano said. "Our philosophy is to control the clock and time of possession but whenever you can take the touchdown, you take it."

The Patriots drove inside the red zone on their ensuing possession but Chazz Edwards cut down Brandon Hillman for a 3-yard loss on fourth down. Franklin Parish only needed three plays on their next series to tie it up on Carter's 45-yard run with 7:58 left in the first half.

But Plaquemine answered with a 11-play, 77-yard drive capped by Maracalin's 3-yard burst up the gut. Maracalin had carries for 11, 11 and 17 yards on the possession and LeJeune's kick gave the Green Devils a 21-14 lead with 2:46 remaining in the first half.

Quintrell Anderson recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession but Wicks was intercepted just before halftime.

Jaron Hooks had two tackles for loss to open the second half and Maracalin capped the ensuing 6-play, 59-yard drive with a tackle breaking rumble around the left end from 12 yards to push the lead to 28-14 with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter.

Kevin Dotson's tackle for loss stymied the Patriots' next possession but Plaquemine couldn't capitalize right away. Two series later, Wicks kept around right end for a shake and bake 7-yard touchdown following a 10-yard completion to Louis Conerly set up Maracalin's fourth down conversion run. LeJeune's kick pushed the lead to 35-14 with 10:57 remaining.

Orlando Batiste and Cody Brooks each had tackles for loss to open the next two Patriot possessions but Franklin Parish still managed to rip off long touchdown runs on each. Johnny Bell's 42-yard trot and Hillman's 50-yard gallop quickly cut the deficit to 35-27 with 6:13 still remaining.

But Plaquemine iced the game with a 9-play, 52-yard drive capped by Wicks' 3-yard keeper with 2:25 remaining.

Pan American Stadium is located at 194 Zachary Taylor Drive in New Orleans. The game will be televised as the Cox Game of the Week. Ticket prices are $10 at the gate and $6 before the game at the Plaquemine Fieldhouse from 11 a.m. - noon. For more information contact athletic director Scott Allen at 225-202-5108.