EUNICE — Rayne High School defensive back Hunter Keely glanced down at the ground and saw nothing but a goal line Friday night.
Keely scooped up a second quarter Eunice fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown to lift Rayne to a 20-13 win in a District 4-4A contest at Bobcat Stadium.
The fumble return for a touchdown was the first of Keely’s career.
It also provided the Wolves with their final score 6:28 before halftime.
Keely said the recovery was a fortuitous play for a defender, something that doesn’t come that often.
“I saw the ball come out and it was there on the ground. I picked it up, and when I looked up (it) was wide open. I knew I was going to score,” he said.
Keely’s score came 3:28 after the Wolves ended a 10-play, 63-yard scoring drive to take a 14-7 lead on a Jaylon Reed run.
Rayne coach Curt Ware said Keely’s play was crucial, especially in a defensive game where neither team scored in the second half.
“Any time you score on defense, it’s going to be big,” Ware said. “That gave us a two-touchdown lead (20-7) at that point.”
Eunice coach Paul Trosclair said the fumble return, which occurred on a sack of Bobcats quarterback Alex Richard, was one too many lost possessions during a tight game.
“I thought we did everything well except for one thing. We fumbled too much. Otherwise, I thought we played well,” Trosclair said.
The Bobcats’ other key fumble came during their second possession of the third period. Eunice drove from the Bobcats 27-yard-line to the Rayne 30. On a first down at that point, Wolves linebacker Austin Coleman collected another loose ball.
Rayne’s win enabled the Wolves to climb to 6-1 and 2-1 in 4-4A. Eunice fell to 3-4, 1-3.
The Bobcats drove to the Wolves 11, but failed to convert a fourth down with 2:40 left before intermission.
Trosclair praised his defense, which held Rayne on four downs inside the 1 early in the final period.
Rayne’s Deontrey Wilridge was stopped on fourth down just short of the goal line with 11:51 left in the game.
Wildridge received most of the touches for the Wolves, who threw only seven passes. He finished with 27 carries and 104 yards.
The Wolves finished with 163 rushing yards, while Eunice gained 123 on the ground.
Richard completed 9 of 17 for 95 yards. The Bobcats’ Travis Godfrey had six receptions for 71 yards.
The Wolves consumed nearly eight minutes of the first quarter on a 77-yard scoring drive that featured Wilridge and running back John Michael Besse.
Wilridge gained 26 of the yards on two carries.
Besse, who gained 54 yards on 12 carries during the game, finished the possession with a 5-yard run.
Eunice responded with a 66-yard TD march that featured seven snaps — all on the ground.
The Bobcats’ received 23 yards on two rushes from quarterback John Ardoin. Darin Serie scored the TD on a 23-yard run with 1:55 remaining