Friday night’s game between Destrehan and Dutchtown might not have been a rivalry game between two district foes, but it surely felt like it.
The Griffins (1-2) gave the No. 4 team in the New Orleans Advocate Large Schools Super 10 all it could handle on its home field, but Destrehan (3-0) leaned on its star players when it needed them and pulled out a hard-fought 20-10 victory in almost its third game against Dutchtown in the last calendar year.
“Winning a game like this shows how good a team we are,” said Destrehan cornerback Austin Dickerson, who had two crucial interceptions on the night. “We can play with anybody. (Dutchtown) is supposed to be one of the top teams in the state. That shows we’re also one of the top teams.”
After a shaky first half from first-year quarterback Marquise Darensbourg, Destrehan depended on the production of running back Will Matthews and receiver Kirk Merritt to lead it to victory. Matthews finished with 25 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns, while Merritt added 88 yards on seven touches, including a 72-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Destrehan a 13-10 lead.
“We just needed to overcome adversity,” Matthews said. “We made a few mistakes, and we knew we couldn’t do anything about it. We just came out in the second half and took advantage of our opportunities.”
After Dickerson’s second interception, Destrehan gave Matthews the ball on six out of eight plays that eventually ended with Matthews plunging in from a yard out to give Destrehan a 20-10 lead late in the fourth quarter.
“In the fourth quarter, we could see that the (Dutchtown) defense started getting a little tired,” Matthews said. “I just wanted to take advantage of it and keep pushing the ball down their throat.”
Destrehan finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter after a 7-play, 55-yard drive was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Matthews which gave Destrehan a 6-3 lead after the extra-point attempt was blocked.
Darrensbourg struggled early for the Wildcats, completing fewer than half of his passes in the first half and tossing two critical interceptions, including an interception to Dutchtown defensive back Coney Burr in the back of the end zone, which negated a much-needed scoring opportunity for Destrehan in the second quarter.
After both teams exchanged interceptions late in the first quarter, Dutchtown scored the first points of the game after a nine-play, 38-yard drive ended with a 38-yard field goal by Justin Reid.
Destrehan ended its first two drives with no points after lengthy drives got them deep into Dutchtown territory. Destrehan’s first drive went 12 plays and 61 yards before the Wildcats missed a 36-yard field goal.
Destrehan’s next drive went 10 plays and 27 yards before Reid, the younger brother of former LSU standout Eric Reid, blocked a Destrehan punt — another example of the erratic night the Wildcats had on special teams. Dutchtown’s special teams made plays to keep them in the game the entire night.
“Those guys were aggressive the entire night,” Dickerson said. “They made some big plays on special teams to keep them in the game, but we did what it took to pull out the win.”
Next week, Destrehan will host Terrebonne in its first district matchup of the season. Dutchtown will face off with Captain Shreve in a non-district game.