And for Act II, the Wreckin’ Rams showed a punishing defense is just as good of a weapon when you’re trying to win a state title.
Acadiana followed up its dominant 36-point win — when it put up 77 points — against Parkway in last year’s state championship game with an equally impressive 23-7 victory against Destrehan in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic on Saturday to win its second straight title and fourth in the past decade.
“This bunch is a pretty special group,” Acadiana coach Ted Davidson said. “We were 2-3 after Week 5, and we were kind of left for dead there a little while.
“We bounced back.”
The team did so behind its defense, which has been lights out in the latter portion of the season.
The Rams (11-4) wouldn’t need to put up 11 touchdowns on this trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. They limited a potent Destrehan attack that had averaged nearly 40 points per game, powering the Wildcats to a 14-0 record.
“Defensively, we held a high-scoring Zachary offense last week to three (points) and a dynamic Destrehan offense to seven this week,” Davidson said. “So we played tremendous defense during the home stretch.”
The Wildcats moved the ball well against Acadiana at times, racking up 325 yards with four drives that went nine plays or more, but the Rams continually found ways to keep Destrehan out of the end zone.
That would never be more important than in the fourth quarter, when a resilient Wildcats squad drove the ball inside the Rams’ 10-yard line twice.
But the Rams stiffened when they needed to.
“We got in the red zone, and we couldn’t score,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “That was the big key. … You’ve got to be able to score touchdowns, and we couldn’t get it done.”
Trailing 23-7 with 8:39 remaining, the Wildcats went on a 12-play, 70-yard march aiming to pull closer. But Malik Eugene stormed into the backfield to sack sophomore Marquise Darensbourg for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 7, and Darensbourg’s fourth-down pass bounced off his receiver’s hands to keep the Rams’ lead at 16.
Destrehan took over with great field position after holding Acadiana to a three-and-out, starting at the Rams’ 43-yard line. Back-to-back pass completions moved them inside the Acadiana 10-yard line with a little more than 1:30 remaining.
Again, the Rams held strong. Darensbourg’s fourth-and-11 pass was broken up, and jubilant cheers started in the bleachers behind the Rams bench.
It didn’t look like it would be a low-scoring affair early. Destrehan moved the ball well against Acadiana on its first drive behind powerful senior running back Will Matthews, who gained 54 yards in the first quarter.
“They came out, and they were kind of pushing us around a little bit,” Davidson said. “Will Matthews is a load. But we were able to stem the tide a little bit and turn the field position around. That was big.”
Matthews would only rush for 29 yards the rest of the game.
“The defense, they were good, they were fast,” Matthews said. “The holes just closed fast.”
The Rams forced the first of three Destrehan turnovers in the first quarter when Charles Campbell jumped a route and made a diving interception at the Destrehan 37-yard line.
On the next play, quarterback Kevin Moore — who also led the Rams with 8.5 tackles — floated a pass to a wide-open Bry’kiethon Mouton. Mouton did the rest, going 37 yards for the night’s first score.
Mouton had two catches for 77 yards; he was named Acadiana’s Most Outstanding Player.
The normally run-oriented Rams went the traditional route for their next score, slamming the Wildcats with five rushes that picked up 41 yards to extend their lead to 14-0 on a 2-yard Eric Duhon score.
The Rams had their own troubles punching it in from there but were buoyed by a strong performance from kicker Brodie Fontenot, who drilled all three of his field-goal attempts to make Destrehan’s comeback attempt more challenging. The 16-point deficit meant the Wildcats would’ve not only needed to score two touchdowns but also connect on both two-point conversion attempts.
Despite the fact that his school has won nearly 50 percent of the past nine state titles, Davidson is not ready to concede that he is overseeing a dynasty in Scott. He’s not even up for saying his Rams defended their state title.
This win belongs to this team — and this team alone.
“You don’t really defend it,” he said. “You get a new team, and you come back and play for it again if you’re fortunate. These guys earned the right to come back and play for it, and they wanted it.”