Sometimes a team just needs to hit the reset button at halftime.
That was the case with No. 1 Plaquemine on Friday night as it went on a 27-8 run in the second half to defeat No. 9 South Terrebonne 33-22 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A non-select playoffs.
It’s the first time since 1961 the Green Devils have made it to the semifinal round of the playoffs.
After the first Green Devils drive, the Gators dominated the half. Plaquemine looked stunned on its own turf.
But Plaquemine running back Austin Mitchell took the handoff out of the read option and as he ran away from the South Terrebonne defenders, so did the Green Devils with the game.
“We just didn’t want to panic,” said Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano.
“We always tell the kids, if you can’t win the game in the first half, win it in the second. They went down at halftime, but played our style of football in the second half.”
The score cut the deficit to 14-12, but the momentum had swung in favor of the Green Devils.
On the next play, South Terrebonne muffed the short kickoff right into the hands of Plaquemine. The field position wouldn’t really matter, though, as Mitchell was off to the races again on the next play. His 34-yard touchdown run gave the Green Devils the momentum it needed.
“I just saw everybody shooting to the sideline and saw the breakaway,” Mitchell said. “It was very important (to get out to a fast start). If the offense gets that momentum, the defense is going to help us out and get stops.”
Mitchell finished with 76 yards on 11 carries, third best on the team in rushing yards.
Quarterback D’Morea Wicks outgained the Gators on the ground with 124 yards on 22 carries and pair of scores, including a 41-yard dash on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Gators totaled 189 yards, most of which came in the first half. The third quarter was particularly devastating when South Terrebonne ran three plays.
Gators quarterback Tyeson Verdin found wide receiver Tae Martin in the corner of the end zone with under two minutes to play.
Verdin finished with 128 yards on 7-for-16 passing and two touchdowns.
“I thought after the first half we had an opportunity to have an even bigger lead than that,” South Terrebonne coach Richard Curlin said. “You have to give it to them, they came out in the second half, they made the plays and they made it happen.”
The Plaquemine defense was the most costly aspect of the night for Distefano. He promised the unit if they scored a touchdown, he would buy them lunch Saturday.
Distefano will have to dig deep into his pockets thanks to linebacker Joe Keller. With a few minutes left, Keller intercepted Verdin and ran 57 yards to the end zone.
“Joe Keller cost me a pretty good bit of money tomorrow, but I’m proud to spend it on my kids,” Distefano said. “I don’t know (where I’ll take them) yet.”