METAIRIE — The first football game between Rummel and Denham Springs made for a long afternoon for the Yellow Jackets on Saturday and proof that the team might need to tighten up some areas of their game before they start district play next week.
Rummel quarterback Damian Williams accounted for 131 yards and four touchdowns (two rushing and two passing) and running back J.J. Brown rushed for 186 yards to lead the Raiders to a 41-24 victory against Denham Springs at Joseph S. Yenni Stadium.
Denham Springs (3-1) hosts East Ascension in its District 4-5A opener on Friday.
“We learned that we’ve got a lot to do,” Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said. “We’ve got to go back to work to get better.”
Rummel (3-0), which hosts Holy Cross in its homecoming game Saturday, had the kind of strong outing against Denham Springs that might prove to voters across the state that it is worthy of cracking the top 10 in the Class 5A rankings.
The Raiders rushed for 337 yards and led from start to finish.
Williams said the key to the game was the strong play of Rummel’s offensive line.
Denham Springs was led by quarterback Kyle Cedotal, who passed for 206 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 63 yards and one touchdown.
“We scheduled Rummel to find out where we stand,” Nettles said.
And, unfortunately for Denham Springs, it didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to get the answers they were seeking.
Williams and receiver Carlos Claveria led the Raiders to an eight-play, 53-yard drive on the game’s first possession for a 7-0 lead. Williams kept the drive alive with a 28-yard pass to Claveria on a third-and-3 play from the Denham Springs’ 46-yard line. Williams rolled left out of the shotgun formation and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Claveria on a third-and-goal play.
“That first drive set the tempo for the whole game,” Brown said.
Rummel increased its lead to 13-0 when Williams hid behind two of his blockers and nuzzled his way into the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run out of the shotgun formation with 10:01 left in the first half. The Raiders missed the extra point because of a bad snap and a botched run by holder Jordan Nami.
Denham Springs responded on the proceeding possession by airing out its playbook on a 16-play, 67-yard drive that set up a 30-yard field goal by David McKey, which made the score 13-3 with 4:11 remaining. The Yellow Jackets kept the drive going with two trick plays (a hook-and-lateral pass and a throwback pass to Cedotal) and a 2-yard run by Cedotal on a fourth-down quarterback sneak.
But Rummel receiver Cyril Grayson took the sting out Denham Springs just before halftime when he scooted around left end on a speed sweep and raced 66 yards for a touchdown, which made the score 20-3 with four seconds left in the second quarter.
“I just wanted to find out how they were going to play it,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “We lined up in the formation, and we didn’t expect to score a touchdown.”
Grayson’s touchdown run turned the game around.
“I feel like 13-3 (which would have been the score without the Rummel late touchdown down) is a different game than 20-3,” Nettles said.
Denham Springs took the opening possession of the second half and drove 80 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown to make the score 20-10.
Rummel increased its lead to 34-10 when Williams threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Ricks with 8:15 left in the game.
Denham Springs outscored Rummel 14-7 in the final five minutes.
“I was a little upset that I took our ones out a little too early,” Roth said.
But, other than that, he had no complaints.
“I was pleased with the whole thing,” Roth said.