MONROE — Steven Dunbar’s 38-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner as top-seeded Rummel avoided an upset with a 23-19 victory over No. 9 Ouachita on Friday night.
With the win, Rummel (12-0) advances to take on Mandeville in the state semifinals, with a berth in the Class 5A state championship game on the line.
Trailing 16-13 with less than six minutes to go, Damian Williams led the Raiders on a six-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that culminated with Dunbar’s lone catch of the game, a streaking 38-yard touchdown reception to put the Raiders on top for good.
“We found ways to make plays on offense and defense,” Raiders coach Jay Roth said after the game. “The offense made the plays for us when they needed to, and it proved to be enough to beat a very good Ouachita team. In the end, it actually ended up with a play that we drew up in the dirt that proved to be the game-winner and get us the victory. Ouachita is a very dangerous and athletic team and we just found a way like we have all season to come away with the victory.
“The play to Steven was actually not even designed to go to him (for the game-winning touchdown). Damian avoided some defenders and found his secondary receiver in Steven, and he stepped up and made the big play. What a big play, and we were fortunate enough to hold onto the lead at the end with our defense and force the stop on fourth down.”
The teams were tied at 6 after the first half.
The second half turned into an offensive show for both teams as they scored on every possession in the third quarter. Nigel Dora’s 63-yard touchdown run gave the Lions a brief 12-6 lead before Rummel immediately answered with a touchdown drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Keith Fulton to go back on top, 13-12.
The Lions (10-3) went back on top for good when Diquan Wilson led them on a touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. He capped off the march with a 26-yard touchdown run of his own and make the score 19-13. Zachary Pilet’s third field goal of the game, this time from 38 yards, got the Raiders as close as 19-16.
“We got into the red zone four times and we got three field goals,” Roth said. “We were disappointed that we didn’t score touchdowns and we may have been able to not make this one as close as it actually seemed if we would have been able to do that.”
Fulton finished the game as the Raiders’ leading carrier, with 96 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Dora finished the game as the leading rusher for the Lions with a game-high 189 yards a touchdown on 22 carries.
“We are just so happy to come away with the win no matter how we did it,” Roth said. “Style points in the playoffs don’t matter. You just need to win and advance and we did that tonight.”