It was the big-play offense of Plaquemine, directed by quarterback Austin Mitchell, against the grind-it-out approach of Belaire and its premiere running back DaQuan Hicks when the teams met in Plaquemine on Friday.
Mitchell and his offensive teammates came up with the plays they needed, the Green Devils defense had two key stops to turn away Belaire scoring threats and Plaquemine wrapped up its third straight District 6-4A championship with a 53-18 win.
Mitchell rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more as Plaquemine (7-3, 5-0 in 6-4A) ran up 410 yards of offense.
Hicks carried 36 times for 254 yards, caught an 11-yard pass on a fourth-and-ten play for Bengals’ only completion, and scored one touchdown.
Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said he was nervous about the Belaire ball control game going into the contest, and the game statistics showed his fears were well-grounded. Belaire (5-5, 1-4) ran 63 offensive plays to 30 for the Green Devils and rushed for 319 yards.
“My hat is off to coach (Claude) Coleman and the job he’s done,” Distefano said. “They shorten the game, they’re real big and they come right at you. We only got the ball for three possessions in the second half.
“But I’m real proud of my guys from the starting quarterback to the last guy on the bench. We only start one senior on defense, and we’ve got freshmen and sophomores out there on the field all over the place. We’ve overcome some adversity with injuries, but the team has worked real hard, and it’s a good feeling.”
One of the key injuries the Green Devils faced was to Mitchell, who missed some games with an ankle injury. On Friday, he played as though he is back to 100 percent.
“It feels good to come back and help my team win the district championship,” he said. “The third one in a row. I think this might have been my best game since Brother Martin or Livonia. As a team I think this was our best one.
“If no one gets a big head about winning the district championship, we should go farther in the playoffs than we did last year.”
Plaquemine’s defense came up strong, preventing the Bengals from scoring on their last drive of the first half and on another drive in the second half that saw the visitors with a first-and-goal at the 7 that turned into a fourth-and-goal at the 26. They were turned away, and the Green Devils marched the other way for a touchdown.
“We left three touchdowns on the field,” Coleman said. “It was a big momentum change when we couldn’t score at the end of the first half when time ran out on us. We would have only been down one touchdown, and we got the ball back to start the second half.
“Then we had a false start that put us behind the sticks on that other drive. But I’m proud of these guys. They’ve been playing hard all year. We just ran into a real good team tonight.”
The Green Devils needed only three plays and 1:23 to score after receiving the opening kickoff.
A 49-yard pass and run from Mitchell to Wayne Toussant set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Tyler Wesley, and the two-point run by Steve Conerly put them up 8-0.
Belaire and Hicks answered with a 66-yard drive. Hicks had 60 of those, with Anthony Nelson picking up the other six, including the last yard for a touchdown.
Toussant got the next touchdown on a 33-yard run after an unsuccessful onside kick attempt gave the Devils a short field at the Belaire 48.
Plaquemine went up 24-6 on a 33-yard pass from Mitchell to Michael Sproles before Hicks followed up a 45-yard scamper with a 5-yard TD run.
Mitchell scored once more on a 21-yard keeper and the Devils were up 32-12 at halftime.