Landry-Walker didn’t get off to a good start against LaGrange in the team’s Class 4A regional playoff game Friday at Behrman Stadium.
However, Keytaon Thompson quickly put an end to the Charging Buccaneers’ doldrums. Starting with a spectacular second quarter, Thompson rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two, leading Landry-Walker to a 46-7 victory.
“We play a two-quarterback system, so Keytaon was going to get in at some point,” said Landry-Walker coach Emmanuel Powell. “He has some big running plays, and I thought he threw the ball really well. But our defense was very stout against their running game, and that was big for us.”
Landry-Walker (10-2), the sixth seeds in the Class 4A nonselect playoffs, advanced to a quarterfinals matchup at Franklinton, which beat Rayne 36-14 on Friday. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for LaGrange (7-5).
Thompson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, finished 6-of-8 passing for 149 yards and rushed for 90 yards on 12 carries. He entered the game with Landry-Walker trailing 7-6 at 1:27 of the first quarter. During a period of less than five minutes - from the eight-minute mark of the second quarter to 3:16 – he made three breath-taking plays.
First, he eluded the Gators’ pass run and ran 39 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Then, on the first play after a LaGrange punt, he teamed with senior receiver Javon Conner on a 50-yard touchdown play at 6:32 of the second quarter in which Conner made several defenders miss.
The two combined again after defensive lineman Elise Wilner sacked Gators quarterback Jeremiah West, who fumbled. A scrum for the loose football propelled it 16 yards back to the LaGrange 24, where it was recovered by linebacker Ashton Bowie. Two plays later, Thompson passed to Conner for a 29-yard score with the 3:18 mark. Landry-Walker led 26-7 at halftime. Conner scored two touchdowns after scoring three last week against Cecilia in the bi-district round.t
“(Thompson) came in and made some big running plays and gave them a lift,” said LaGrange coach Jerome Sullen. “But we played them last year (losing 34-7 in the regionals), and tonight, just like then, the speed of the game was the difference. They have some very talented kids, and their coaching staff does a great job.”
LaGrange never could get untracked. Standout running back Markell Hawthorne was held to 89 yards on 20 carries. The Gators rushed for 122 yards.
“We wanted to take away the run and make them pass,” Powell said. “Our defensive line did well at the point of attack, and our linebackers flowed well.”
That was all to clear just before the fist half ended. LaGrange had first down at the Bucs’ with 1:08 left in the second quarter. However, Landry-Walker kept the Gators out of the end zone, with defensive back Michael Lee leading several Buccaneers to stopped Hawthorne for no gain on fourth-and-goal.
Lee then returned the second-half kickoff to the Gators 40. Two plays later, Thompson scrambled for a 38-yard touchdown run. The next time L-W got the ball, he led a 90-yard drive in 11 plays, capped by his 1-yard sneak at 3:28 of the third.
Powell acknowledged that playing at Franklinton will be a big challenge, but he seemed to think his team will do OK.
“They’re a running team,” he said. “So, I think we match up well.”