With defense a fairly untapped resource in the first half Friday night, Denham Springs High and Woodlawn High cruised up and down the field at Panther Stadium with little resistance.
Both defenses had a little more say after halftime and created some turnovers, but the offenses woke back up in a wild-and-wooly fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jackets racked up 547 yards after a sluggish beginning and rode a stretch of touchdowns on five consecutive possessions - three straight in a 5:50 span of the second quarter - to churn past the Panthers, 50-39.
DSHS quarterback Kyle Cedotal passed for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Kaleb Blanchard crashed his way to 97 tough-as-nails yards on the ground with three scores.
Woodlawn got a 249-yard passing night from Kendall Barnes and thrived on big plays early to grab a 10-0 lead.
But when the Yellow Jackets’ size started to take effect, the game changed.
“They were just so big and physical and did a good job of keeping the ball away from us,” Woodlawn coach Don Jones said. “We couldn’t stop them when we need to. They wore us down physically and then when we had some chances to do some things to stay close, we didn’t and that hurt us.”
Denham Springs (2-0) alternated the damage between quick-strike touchdowns and long, grinding drives.
Down 10-0, the Yellow Jackets put together back-to-back 80-yard drives, got a 42-yard bolt from Blanchard, Justin Martin’s 57-yard dash for a score and then another 80-yard march to erase the deficit and take a 35-24 lead.
After scratching out just 34 yards on its first 11 snaps, Denham piled up 338 on those five scoring series.
“That first-half race was unexpected,” DSHS coach Dru Nettles said. “We didn’t want to be in a shootout with them, but that’s what it turned into early and we responded well.”
Woodlawn (1-1) didn’t go away, though.
The Panthers clawed back within 35-32 midway through the third quarter when Kellen Barnes zipped a 1-yard TD pass to Deandre Crosby to cap a quick drive. Crosby also hauled in the two-point conversion.
Before things got too uncomfortable for Denham Springs, though, its offense pieced together an 11-yard jaunt, bolstered by Blanchard’s fourth-down conversion run. Cedotal rifled a 32-yard TD strike to Dron Singleton on a quick slant to nudge the lead back to 41-32.
“Kyle Cedotal was a great leader out there and kept us moving well,” Nettles said.
Justin Turner’s interception and 30-yard return set up David McKey for a 27-yard field goal that pushed the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 44-32 with 6:44 to go.
Woodlawn’s big-play skills made things interesting when Lofton snatched a short Barnes’ pass and rambled 44 yards for a score, his second scoring grab of the night to go along with a 98-yard kickoff return TD.
Barnes finished with 249 passing yards, with a 73-yard touchdown bomb to Brent Terrance on the game’s first snap.
“With our quarterback, receivers and backs, we’re capable of scoring every time we touch the football,” Jones said. “That kept us in the game, but we lost the ball a few times and that let them get a lead.”
Denham Springs entertains Catholic High next week, while Woodlawn travels to Central.