KAPLAN — The top-seeded Lutcher needed a strong defensive effort to defeat No. 9 Kaplan 13-8 in the Class 3A quarterfinals on Friday at Ed Douglas Memorial Stadium.
Lutcher moves on to the semifinals, where it will play West Feliciana for a spot in the Class 3A state championship game.
The Pirates (9-4) gave the Bulldogs (12-1) all they could handle from start to finish, as Lutcher sealed the game with an interception in the end zone with just a minute left to play.
“I want to take my hat off to Kaplan,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “They really played an outstanding game. I admire their effort. My kids had a lot of adversity that we had to play through, and we did that.”
Lutcher held the Pirates to just 156 yards on the ground on 44 carries and just one completion for two yards on seven attempts, effectively limiting Kaplans scoring chances all game.
But the Bulldogs struggled to build a significant lead because of a large number of penalties committed at inopportune times. Lutcher committed 16 penalties that set them back a total of 120 yards, compared to Kaplan’s three penalties for 15 yards.
“My defense has shown up every single week, and they did again tonight,” Detillier said. “But it seemed like we couldn’t get a break. Every time we had something going, we had a lot of laundry on the field. We just have to be more disciplined.”
After heading into the locker room down 13-0, Kaplan went for a bold move with an onside kick to open the second half and caught Lutcher off guard.
“It was a squib kick that we work on that all the time,” Kaplan coach Stephen Lotief said. “It’s an onside, but it’s not an onside.”
The gamble paid off as the ensuing drive led to a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Julius Johnson, followed by a run by senior quarterback Jade Herpin to convert the two-point conversion and cut the Bulldogs’ lead to just five points.
The game then turned into a defensive stalemate as the next six drives between the two teams ended in punts.
After forcing a turnover on downs with a bit more than five minutes remaining in the contest, the Pirates had one last attempt to take the lead, but it had to play its final drive without starting quarterback Herpin, who went out with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
With junior backup Daniel Lotief at the helm, Kaplan drove the ball down to the Lutcher 21-yard line with a little over a minute left to play.
But the drive ended when, facing third-and-seven, Lotiefwas intercepted in the end zone by Alec Bland with 1:01 remaining. The Bulldogs proceeded to run out the clock and seal the victory.
“We didn’t have to beat them five million times, we just had to beat them once,” Stephen Lotief said. “We just didn’t get it done.
“(They played their hearts out), and that’s all you can ask of them. But if we’d worked a little bit harder, we’d be celebrating right now. But hell yeah, I’m proud. I’m happy.”