When the game ended at Port Allen’s Otwell Stadium on Friday night, Brusly had earned a hard-fought 28-27 comeback win over Port Allen to win the banner symbolizing westside supremacy, and both teams were ready to look ahead to the playoffs.
Both teams finished 3-2 in District 7-3A and will learn their playoff opponents on Sunday afternoon.
The host Pelicans were looking to tie their best regular season record, 9-1 in 1974.
They looked to be well on their way after taking a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter and stretching it to 21-0 on their first possession of the third.
Brusly (6-4) scored with 6:29 left in the third quarter and ran up 28 unanswered points before stopping Port Allen’s two-point conversion attempt with 1:29 left in the game to seal the win.
“I know this is a big rivalry and all, but we needed this for our football team,” Brusly coach Erik Willis said. “We’ve had a lot of games we should have won that we just didn’t finish, but tonight we did.”
A big part of the Panthers’ big finish and comeback was the play of quarterback Jay Christophe. Although he lost 9 yards on a crucial sack in the first quarter and was bottled up most of the first half, he came back to finish with 99 yards on 19 carries and touchdown runs of 4, 2 and 46 yards.
Willis said his team put the game in Christophe’s hands in the second half.
“We did that earlier in the year, and then he had a little injury to play through, but he was back to his old self tonight,” he said.
Port Allen quarterback Darian Claiborne, was seeking to be both a 1,000-yard rusher and passer for the regular season. Unofficially, he finished with 225 yards passing for 1,164 yards for the year and 21 yards rushing with two sacks subtracted from his total for 917 for the year.
Port Allen (8-2) capitalized on two long strikes and a big special teams play to run up a 14-0 first quarter lead.
Brusly mounted an efficient drive after the opening kickoff, sparked by a fourth down conversion on a fake punt by Sharrod Patterson. Patterson followed with a 10-yard touchdown run, but it was called back by a procedure penalty and the Panthers gave up the ball on downs on the Port Allen 20.
Port Allen wasted no time putting up a score. On their second play, Claiborne hit wide receiver Ashton Paul Williams for a 79-yard pass and run, and Ricky Decuir added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Pelicans matched Brusly’s fake punt with a gimmick of their own, recovering an onside kick and adding a second touchdown on a perfectly executed option with Claiborne pitching the ball to Terrell Lockett for a 39-yard touchdown run.
The rest of the first half belonged to the defenses. The second quarter was scoreless, setting up the second-half drama.
“Physically, they kind of stuck it to us in the second half,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “When you get up 21-0, you just can’t make that many mistakes.
“But we still had a chance to win there at the end, and there was no doubt in my mind that we were going for two (by going for the two-point conversion).
“We came in here to win, but I’m not disappointed. We played hard, we played physical and now we have to get ready for the playoffs.”
Brusly had big rushing games from Brendon Alexander (six carries for 75 yards) and Patterson (eight carries for 67 yards).
Williams had four catches for 155 yards to lead the Pelican offense.