After the first quarter, it appeared Northwest might turn Friday night's Class 3A nonselect quarterfinal against West Feliciana into the battle of undefeated teams it was slated to be.
The Saints had other plans.
No. 1 seed West Feliciana led by just a point with under a minute to play in the first quarter, but the Saints scored 28 unanswered before halftime to spark them to a 50-15 win over No. 8 seed Northwest.
“At this time in the year, you can’t have mistakes,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said. “The more disciplined, physical team is going to win the football game, and there’s no do-overs. But I’m proud of our guys: 13-0 and a semifinal game at home next week. That’s all you can ask for.”
The Saints started slow after a fumble in the red zone on the opening drive, and then Northwest completed a 76-yard touchdown from Terrel Guillory to receiver Mekhi Hammond to cut West Feliciana's lead to 8-7.
From then on, though, there was nothing Northwest (12-1) could do to stop the Saints. After the unsuccessful opening drive, West Feliciana reached the end zone on five consecutive possessions.
West Feliciana junior quarterback Derek Turner ran for three touchdowns in the first half and threw for another while his supporting cast handled the rest.
The Saints didn’t need Turner to air it out much, mostly relying on their running game while playing with a heavy lead. His lone touchdown pass was a stellar diving catch by receiver Khiry Morrison after Turner was walloped by defenders as he threw.
Turner finished with 118 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while throwing for 115 yards on 4-of-9 passing. He could have inflated his numbers, but Odom brought in reserves with a few minutes to play in the third quarter.
Junior running back Davon Harris, who fumbled on the opening drive, redeemed himself in the second half with a pair of touchdown runs, including a 49-yard burst in the third quarter. Harris finished with 106 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
“I just got my team together and told them we needed to get together,” Turner said of the Saints’ slow start. “We were struggling at first, but we got better as the game got going.”
But while the West Feliciana offense was on a hot streak, the Saints defense was putting up a streak of its own. After their initial touchdown, the Raiders either went three-and-out, threw an interception or turned it over on downs on eight of their next nine possessions.
The Saints defense dominated all over the field: They had four sacks, and the secondary had just as many interceptions, including two by Derius Davis. West Feliciana held the Raiders to 188 yards, most of which came in the second half, when defensive reserves were in the game.
“It’s nice to know you don’t have to force things on offense,” Odom said. “You can be patient, because your defense is going to keep you in games and play football."