SHREVEPORT — Starting slowly didn’t bother J.T. Curtis. It was the result that mattered.
His team, John Curtis, struck quickly in the third quarter as the Patriots rolled to a convincing 38-13 victory over Shades Valley (Alabama) in the Battle on the Border on Friday night.
“(Shades Valley) did some things different defensively,” J.T. Curtis said of his team’s slow start in the first half. “They are very physical up front and we had to adjust our blocking schemes.”
After Curtis took a relatively small 17-0 halftime lead, Darryan Washington brought the Independence Stadium crowd to its feet with a 70-yard kickoff return to open the second half. Shades Valley (1-3) was forced to kick off from its 25-yard line because of a personal foul to end the first half.
Later in the same quarter, Marquese Albert sprinted 85 yards for another touchdown with a kickoff return.
Senior running back Devon Benn paced Curtis (2-0) with 75 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Tyrone Chavalier supported Benn with 50 yards on nine attempts.
“My line did a great job,” Benn said. “We were just going to pound and pound until things opened up. The line made it happen.”
Quarterback Brock Hebert didn’t have to throw much, but J.T. Curtis was proud of his signal-caller. Hebert ran the option and completed 5 of 10 passes for 51 yards.
“The quarterback did some things that helped us,” J.T. Curtis said. “He (Hebert) gave us a chance by doing the right things.”
J.T. Curtis also said it was good for his team to play in a large venue with other top teams from several states.
“Playing on the road is essential,” he said. “It helps us get ready for district games. This is a great event.”
Having great field position throughout most of the first half, Curtis still had a difficult time scoring against the Mounties defense.
After a 28-yard punt, Curtis marched 45 yards on eight plays with Benn going the final 10 yards for the score. That came with 6:07 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 Curtis lead.
The longest drive of the night for the Patriots came in the second quarter when Hebert guided Curtis 67 yards on 12 plays. Hebert scored on a 3-yard option keeper, giving John Curtis a 14-0 advantage.
Joshua Hartley split the uprights on the final play of the first half with a 24-yard field goal.
Washington’s kickoff return seemed to spark the Patriots in the third quarter. Tyrone Leggett’s punt return and a facemask penalty set up another touchdown. Chavalier sliced 8 yards for the touchdown that put Curtis ahead 31-0.
Lil’maine Patterson finally got the Mounties on the scoreboard with an 11-yard run with 3:38 in the third quarter. Albert followed with his kickoff return to make it 38-7.
Shades Valley’s final touchdown came on 7-yard pass play from quarterback Claude Newell to Conwell Anthony in the fourth quarter.
Curtis amassed 197 yards rushing to 67 for Shades Valley. The Mounties were hurt three times when their center snapped the ball over the quarterback’s outreached hands, resulting in losses of at least 20 yards each time.
Patterson was the leading rusher for the Mounties with 74 yards on 14 attempts. Newell had a tough night passing with 141 yards on 18 of 32 attempts. He operated out of the shotgun on every offensive play.
“I thought our defense played well,” J.T. Curtis said. “We got a chance to play a lot of young people on both sides of the ball tonight.”