West Feliciana High School didn’t count on any gimmicks or gadgets in its game plan when it took on University Lab at Richard Gill Stadium on Friday night.
WFHS (1-3, 0-1 in district) rode the power running of Derrick Turner and Ronald Sims, while U-High turned to the arm of quarterback D.J. White and the feet of Tre Jackson in the District 6-3A opener for both teams.
The visitors built a 24-12 lead before U-High came back with a dominating third quarter and held on for a 47-32 win.
White threw three touchdown passes — two to Jackson — and Jackson added an 84-yard punt return to his evening’s résumé.
Malik Antoine caught White’s other touchdown pass. Mike Hollins and Titus Nelson added rushing touchdowns for the winners.
“I thought our offense started a little bit out of rhythm,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said, “but we made the plays when we had to. They’re a hard team to run against. They put a lot of guys in the box and we had to make some plays throwing. We were able to do that, but you have to be able to run the ball, too.”
U-High (3-1, 1-0) finished with 347 total yards with most of its 203 rushing yards in the second half. Hollins had 115 yards on 21 carries and Nelson finished with 66 on six carries.
White added 144 yards passing. Jackson had five catches for 94 yards.
Turner and Sims did most of their damage in the first half, collecting 215 rushing yards before the U-High defense slowed them down in the second, holding the Saints to 57 additional yards on the ground. Turner finished with 173 yards on 21 carries, and Sims carried 16 times for 71 yards.
“They’re a hard team to prepare for, the way they run the ball,” Mahaffey said. “I thought we did a better job carrying out our assignments in the second half.”
The Cubs scored first at 9:01 of the first quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from White to Jackson. It looked as though they would add to the lead on their second drive, but gave up the ball on a fumble at the WFHS 2.
From there, Turner took the Saints on a 98-yard drive, running the last 73 yards himself for a score. Sims ran for the two-point conversion, and WFHS kept a lead it wouldn’t relinquish until early in the third quarter.
The Saints’ second score was set up by their defense with a sack of White on a fourth-and-long, giving them the ball on the U-High 45. Sims got this touchdown, breaking tackles on his way to a 15-yard run. This time Turner ran in the two-pointer, and West Feliciana led 16-6.
White sandwiched two more touchdown passes — 22 yards to Jackson and 18 to Antoine — around a 1-yard run by Turner to pull the Cubs within 24-19 at halftime.
That lead was short-lived as U-High needed only 1:11 to recover a fumble and score on a 4-yard run by Mike Hollins, a touchdown set up by a 19-yard reception by Jackson.
The Cubs would add big-strike touchdowns on a 45-yard TD run by Hollins and an 84-yard punt return by Jackson to score 21 unanswered points to lead 40-24 after three quarters.
“I believe our young kids were pressing a little bit in the third quarter, and (U-High) did some good things, too,” WFHS coach Robb Odom said. “I still believe we’re a good football team, and we need to make our kids believe that, too.”
— This story was corrected on Sept. 29, 2015.