WATSON - Denham Springs continued on the winning path for the third consecutive week by defeating Live Oak 48-22 in District 4-5A action here Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets (5-2, 2-0) were powered by the nifty running of sophomore Anthony Bracy, who scored four times and gained 131 yards on 13 carries.
Bracy was part of a backfield tandem that included team rushing leader Kaleb Blanchard, who had a 46-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
Blanchard, who has battled injuries much of the season, wheeled around the right side and was on his way to the end zone when he limped out of bounds with an injured hamstring. He left the game for good and watched as Bracy took control. Bracy scored two plays later to set the course for a big first half as the Yellow Jackets built a 35-14 lead going into the locker room.
Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said he was pleased that the offense didn’t seem to miss a beat after Blanchard’s injury.
“I was disappointed to see Blanchard go down like that with another injury, but Bracy did a good job stepping up, and I thought it was a good overall effort by our offense,” said Nettles. “Our offense controlled the game, and we scored when we had to. Bracy is a good young back. He’s a special player, and we’re going to depend on him and the rest of our young backs.”
Bracy said he wasn’t concerned when his teammate left the game.
“I figured I just had to step up for my team,” he said after the game. “The offensive line did a great job blocking for me and doing everything they could to open up some space.”
Live Oak coach David Dykes praised his squad and Denham Springs for its strong performance in the trenches.
“Our kids kept fighting and gave it everything they had tonight. Denham were just too physical for us up front,” Dykes said. “The thing for us to do right now is to stay focused on the big picture and find ways to improve.”
The Eagles (2-5, 0-2) were led by senior quarterback Cole Leblanc, who ran for 221 yards on 25 carries. He also threw for 216 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected with senior Beau Forrest seven times for 79 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles challenged early in the second quarter when LeBlanc pulled off a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 near midfield.
He later found sophomore Wesley Howard all alone behind the Yellow Jacket defensive secondary for a 45-yard touchdown that tied the score.
DSHS regained the lead on the next play from scrimmage on a fluke play, however. LeBlanc’s screen pass on the left side bounced off a player’s helmet, and Yellow Jacket defender Justin Turner pulled in the ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.
“We were trying to throw a screen pass right there and were trying to make a play,” explained Dykes. “It was just a bad break.”
The hosts had another unfortunate momentum-sapping break in the first period when Jarrett Williams grabbed an interception for Live Oak near his own end zone. Williams fell back into the end zone but instead of the touchback, the official ruled the ball down at the 4.
Denham’s defense held tight and Reggie Williams returned the ensuing punt back down inside the Eagle 5-yard line. Bracy later scored on a 4-yard dive play.
Live Oak managed to tie the game twice in the first half before Denham Springs struck swiftly for three unanswered touchdowns in the second period.
Live Oak mounted a drive late in the second period in a bid to close the gap. The Eagles drove deep in Yellow Jacket territory after successfully executing a fake punt but were turned back by two consecutive penalties. Facing a first-and-22, Leblanc was flushed out of the pocket and threw a pass right into the waiting hands of defensive tackle Cody Diblasio. Leblanc then accomplished the task of tackling the big lineman 15 yards down the field.