The Class 5A state final could have been a cleaner played game for both sides, especially in the first half.
In the first quarter, Acadiana High School’s Donavin Soloman tripped on a lineman’s feet on what would have been a sure touchdown. Instead, just a 17-yard gain.
Two drives later, Kevin Moore fumbled on the Destrehan 4-yard line after Javonte Edmond’s 24-yard interception return. The Wildcats recovered.
But interceptions were the story of the first half and what ultimately kept Acadiana ahead 14-7 at halftime. The Wreckin’ Rams defense intercepted Destrehan quarterback Kohen Granier three times in the opening half, and it seemed like anytime the Wildcats mounted a drive, the Rams stalled them with a pick.
“Those interceptions were huge,” Acadiana coach Ted Davidson said. “Any time you can turn them over, it’s huge. It stymied their passing game a whole lot.
“You could tell the quarterbacks were holding the ball a little longer and got them out of rhythm offensively.”
With the game still scoreless in the first quarter, Destrehan’s second offensive possession was ended on the third play, when Acadiana safety Charles Campbell stepped in front of a Granier pass and hauled it in. On the first Rams’ offensive play after the turnover, quarterback Kevin Moore found Bry’Keithon Mouton for a 37-yard touchdown.
“We wanted to jump on it right there,” Davidson said. “We had good field position and we had momentum going our way. They were out there a little discombobulated and we hit the big play.”
With the score 7-0, Destrehan threw an interception to Edmond deep in its own territory, who returned it to the Wildcats 6-yard line. Edmond said Granier stared down the receiver and he read his eyes.
The most acrobatic interception came in the second half.
With Destrehan deep into Rams territory, Acadiana junior Jayrin Wilson dove about 5 yards, extended his arms and picked off Granier.
“They were just running a post and middle combination,” Wilson said. “I read the route and just got the ball. We pride ourselves on not letting people get behind us.
“Every time we play a team with good receivers, that is the game plan.”
Much like the entire season — especially the playoffs — the Rams defense stepped up big when the Rams needed it on the biggest stage. For Davidson, he said the defensive effort through this stretch was tremendous.
“Last week, we held a high-scoring Zachary offense to three,” Davidson said. “This week, we held a good Destrehan offense to seven. They all said they wanted Acadiana; that was one of their rallying cries. Maybe they don’t want us no more.”