PRAIRIE RONDE — West Feliciana has reached a fifth straight state semifinal football playoff game, and this time, the Saints plan on marching even farther.
There wasn’t much opposition to that objective Friday night as West Feliciana scored on six of eight possessions and easily disposed of Northwest High 42-7 in a Class 3A quarterfinal matchup.
The victory enables the sixth-ranked Saints (11-2) to host No. 10 Jennings in a semifinal.
Jennings defeated Crowley 14-0 in another quarterfinal.
Northwest (9-4), seeded No. 14, finished as a quarterfinalist for the third straight year. The Raiders were also playing their first home quarterfinal playoff game in school history.
The Saints and Northwest met in a quarterfinal last year and West Feliciana won that game 50-15.
West Feliciana finished with 301 rushing yards and another 205 passing. The Saints led 21-0 early in the second quarter and then put the game away on the first series of the third period when Devon Harris broke loose on an 80-yard run on the first snap of the second half.
West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said the Saints’ overall team speed was probably the deciding factor.
Two Saints touchdowns were one-play drives, while another took just two snaps.
“I think we’re just fortunate to have some kids who can run. That’s something that you can’t coach,” Odom said.
“Some of the stuff that we called (Friday night) wasn’t there at first, but I think our speed and athleticism gave us a chance to make some plays. I thought that plus our defense, which is really playing well right now were the key factors for us tonight.”
Northwest High coach Chris Edwards said he anticipated what was in store for his team, especially since his team lost by 35 points last year.
“They have a lot of seniors and a lot of players who we played against us last year,” Edwards said. “Now they’ve had another year to get bigger, stronger and faster.”
Odom said the Saints have a large senior class, many of them four-year lettermen, who have reached the semifinal plateau throughout their careers.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what this senior group has accomplished. Now hopefully we can take another step past the semifinals and have a chance to play for another championship,” he said.
Both coaches agreed that a potentially big momentum swing came at the end of the game’s first series, when Northwest took the opening kickoff and went 69 yards to the Saints’ 6-yard line.
The potential drive didn’t get any farther, and after the Saintts gained possession, they scored on a 74-yard, 10-play drive featuring a 5-yard scoring run by quarterback Derek Turner.
“That was a bit part of what happened. A good part of this game is about momentum and that was a big turning point right there.
“We were able to turn that momentum around and move it in for a score rather quickly,” Odom said.
On the Raiders’ next series, cornerback Chad Tillery intercepted quarterback Montaze Sam at the Saints’ 31. On the first play of that drive, Turner launched a scoring pass to wide receiver Denius Davis and WFHS moved ahead 14-0 with 26 seconds left in the first.
The quick strike offense scored again on the Saints’ third possession. On the second play Turner was in trouble, but he quickly lateraled to Harris, who cut through the Raiders’ potential tacklers for a 32-yard score.
Individual yardage was dispersed among four Saints. Harris had a team-leading 143 yards on six attempts, while Turner gained 66 on six carries. Clayton Howard gained 61 on six attempts, while Davis had 56.
Northwest ended the first half at the Saints’ 11, but also failed to score.
Sam threw three interceptions, but he completed five passes to wide receiver August Pitre, who had 167 receiving yards.