From the first time Tyron Johnson touched the ball, Benton fans knew they were in for a long night.
The nation’s top-ranked wide receiver for the Class of 2015 returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown as No. 5 Warren Easton defeated No. 4 Benton 55-7 in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Friday night.
With the win, the Eagles (11-2) advance to the semifinals next week against No. 1 Plaquemine.
Up 7-0 midway through the first-quarter, the high-powered Warren Easton got going with Deshawn Capers-Smith connected with Darrell Clark for a 30-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 13-0.
Capers-Smith would throw two more touchdowns in the second quarter, connecting with Devin Glenn for a 22-yard score and a late 43-yard score to Darren Holmes in the second quarter to make it 27-0 at the half.
A commitment to the Texas A&M, Capers-Smith finished the game, 19-32 for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson finished the game with 78 yards receiving on six catches and 294 total yards. Clark had 122 yards receiving on nine catches and a touchdown.
“We take a lot of pride in what we accomplished tonight,” Johnson said. “We came from being under .500 my freshman and sophomore year. My junior year we lost because of lack of experience in the playoffs. Tonight we used what we had last year.
“The coaching staff tonight thought we had the chance to really get some things done in the return game. That was the plan for me and where the coaching staff thought we could use me the best. Fortunately for us that was the case and we were able to get the job done.”
Forcing six Benton (10-3) punts in the first half, Warren Easton held the Benton offense to only 82 yards of total offense in the first half. Jeremie Francis and Charven Morris each had interceptions on Benton freshman quarterback Garrett Hable.
“I’m so proud of my kids tonight,” an excited Eagles coach Tony Hull said. “They have been through a lot of adversity this year and had to deal with a lot of obstacles. We have faced a lot of trials and tribulations throughout the school year and tonight we just played completely off of emotion. For our kids to come up this far on a trip like this and play this well, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Not to outdo his first touch of the game, Johnson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 89 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-0 Eagles.
“We knew they (Benton) had never seen anybody as fast as Tyron,” Hull said.
“The game plan was to take advantage of that in special teams.”
The Tigers got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when Hable connected with Tyler Stephens for a 33-yard touchdown.
With the win, the Eagles became the first New Orleans public school to make it to the state semifinals since the 1958 season.
“We said a long time ago that we were going to take a bunch of kids the City of New Orleans said wasn’t ever going to amount to anything and do something special,” Hull said. “We are achieving our goal.”