MONROE — Ouachita Christian continued its push toward a second straight state championship by bulldozing Southern Lab 44-8 on Friday night.

The game started off well for the Kittens, who managed three straight first downs to start the game. The drive took them to the Eagles’ 2-yard line before quarterback Deonte Shorts was picked off in the end zone by Braden Bristo.

Ouachita Christian took advantage with a nearly four-minute drive that ended with a 5-yard Bristo score.

The Kittens’ next drive only lasted six plays before Colby Webb intercepted another Shorts pass. Three plays later, Bristo found Webb for an 8-yard score, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead.

Only three plays into Southern Lab’s next series, Shorts was picked off again by Bristo. After two plays, Webb punched it in from 29 yards, making the score 20-0 after a missed extra point.

After back-and-forth punts, OCS blocked a Southern Lab punt and recovered at the Kittens’ 2-yard line. The next play was another score for Bristo, boosting the Eagles’ lead to 27-0.

Ouachita Christian’s defense forced a fumble after a Shorts completion, then ate the remaining 2:49 in the second period.

Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said his team was young but should be proud of making a run three rounds into the playoffs.

“Right now, because our kids are part of this, it establishes a baseline,” he said. “We’ve got to build on this. It’s what programs like OCS have done.”

Bristo ended the night with only 53 yards on the ground, but he had those three scores. Ahkeem Henderson added 103 yards.

The Eagles received the ball to start the second half and continued their march when Bristo punched in his third score from 4 yards.

Ouachita Christian’s defense picked off Shorts again on the Kittens’ next possession and capitalized with an 8-yard pass from Quin Graves to Webb, putting the Eagles’ advantage at 41-0.

Southern Lab’s ensuing drive was the lone successful one: Shorts hit Marquise Richard for a 49-yard score. The touchdown was set up three plays earlier by a 45-yard toss from Shorts to Richard.

The final period was highlighted by a 23-yard field goal by Luke Albritton to set the final margin.

Ouachita Christian coach Steven Fitzhugh said he was happy with his team’s all-around effort.

“They had our backs to the wall early with a few good plays, but our defense kept at it,” he said. “They bent but didn’t break. I’m just real proud of their effort.”