It is often said that it’s tough to beat the same team twice in one season.
Plaquemine High was faced with that very task Friday night, in a road playoff game no less. But the top-seeded Green Devils passed with flying colors as they led wire-to-wire against district 6-4A rival Lutcher High to pull out a 43-28 win and make a return to the Class 4A quarterfinals.
“I’m just really proud of our guys for sticking together,” Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said. “We’re ecstatic that there are only eight teams left, and we’re ready to get to work.”
Austin Mitchell only had 11 carries on the night, but he made each one count. The Plaquemine junior was a big part in the Green Devils’ 419 rushing yards, leading the way with 165 and four touchdowns, starting with a 68-yard score on the fourth play of the game.
“It feels great to do this in the playoffs,” said Mitchell. “My team needed me, and I made big-time plays like coach always tells me to do.”
On the Green Devils’ next possession, Mitchell followed his first big run with a 12-yard score to put PHS 14-0 in the first quarter.
“He’s a special talent,” Distefano said. “He has great vision, is a great athlete with quick moves and a nose for the end zone.”
Trailing by as much as 21 points late in the third quarter, Lutcher pulled within eight points with nine minutes left in the game on a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jontre Kirklin.
However, Plaquemine answered right back with Mitchell’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game to seal the Bulldogs’ fate.
“We felt good coming in to this game because we were healthier this time than the first time,” said Lutcher coach Tim Detillier. “But Plaquemine is the No. 1 seed, and it’s not any accident that they are the No. 1 seed.”
In addition to Mitchell’s heroics, senior quarterback D’Morea Wicks completed six of his nine passes for 133 yards while rushing for 110 more.
His biggest contributions came in the second half with a third-quarter touchdown pass to freshman Wayne Toussant and a 3-yard score on a quarterback sneak late in the game.
“D’Morea is our catalyst,” Distefano said. “Our offense is designed around him, and he did a great job tonight.”
Lutcher made it 14-3 with just over a minute left in the first quarter on a Coy Amato 35-yard field goal that was set up by a 37-yard catch by sophomore receiver Al’dontre Davis on third down a couple of plays earlier.
That score held until the 2:23 mark in the second quarter, when Davis hauled in a 16-yard touchdown on a fade from Kirklin to make it 14-9 at the end of the first half.
“He’s one of our playmakers,” Detillier said of Kirklin. “As he goes, we go, and that’s no secret. I just wish we could’ve made a couple of more plays.”
Kirklin connected with his receivers 11 times for 124 yards and was picked off once. He added a second rushing touchdown at the 1:53 minute mark in the fourth quarter.