Last year, Warren Easton rode a record-breaking offense to one of the best seasons in school history.
On Saturday, the Eagles —ranked No. 8 in the Class 4A LSWA poll— showed their defense can be dominant.
Easton (6-1, 3-0) rode a strong defensive performance and 19 fourth-quarter points to cruise to a 31-7 victory over previously undefeated and second-ranked McDonogh 35 in a matchup between the top two teams in District 9-4A at Pan American Stadium.
“Our defensive coaches did a great job, and they had a great game plan,” Easton coach Tony Hull said. “I would put our defense up against anybody’s in the state.”
All three of McDonogh 35’s possessions to start the second half either began or ended in Roneagles territory, but Easton’s defense stepped up with big stops each time, holding McDonogh 35 scoreless.
The last of the three drives, Easton stopped McDonogh 35 on back-to-back plays from the Eagles 2 and forced a turnover on downs. Six plays and 92 yards later, Tyriek Starks hit Yoheinz Tyler in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
After another McDonogh 35 turnover on downs, Easton extended its lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by Starks to put the Eagles up 24-7 with 6:14 left in the game. Joseph Boyd tacked on one more TD with two minutes left to give Easton a 30-7 lead.
The Eagles held McDonogh 35 to 242 yards of total offense, caused four fumbles (two lost) and held the Roneagles scoreless the entire second half.
“We treat this program with that mentality of one game at a time,” Hull said. “The defense wanted to cause more turnovers than they did last week. They didn’t but they got a lot, and we just want to get better every week.”
Starks had big shoes to fill coming into 2015, replacing Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year Deshawn Capers-Smith, and Starks had a signature game against the Roneagles to show he has taken over as the new leader at Easton.
After a disappointing first half, the senior completed 12 of his 19 passes on the night for 212 yards, with 49 yards rushing and four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing).
“We had to make some adjustments at halftime,” Starks said. “We had a few mental mistakes that came back to bite us, but the adjustments we made were big.”
The Roneagles (6-1, 3-1) struggled moving the ball and scoring when they had the chances. Quarterback Sidney Wilson finished 5-of-19 for 43 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdown. Darius May had 122 yards on 18 carries, but much of that came on a 57-yard run in the second half.
“They were just the better team tonight, and they showed they wanted to win more tonight,” McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese.