CLINTON — Bolstered by a dominant aerial attack and an even stronger support from the home crowd, No. 22-seed East Feliciana flipped the script on No. 6-seeded Rayne, downing the Wolves 39-10 in an impressive regional playoff showing Friday night in Clinton.
With the loss, Rayne (9-3) had its season end, and EFHS (7-3) advances to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs to take on Farmerville, the school that knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs last season.
“(Confidence) should be through the roof,” EFHS coach Cedric Anderson said after the win. “Farmerville is a real good team. We went up there last year, and they sent us packing, 28-26, so I’m sure that’s first on my kids’ minds. Hopefully we can build off this and also off the defeat last year and go out and play ball.”
There were plenty of positives to build off of for the Tigers, who racked up more than 450 yards of total offense in the game — a good chunk of which came from senior quarterback Thocorrence Hawkins.
Hawkins chalked up five total touchdowns, throwing for four and scrambling for one more by hurdling a Rayne defender as he crossed the goal line. Fellow senior Kendall Beckwith lived up to his four-star billing, rushing for 30 yards on three carries, catching a 70-yard pass on a big third down, throwing a 65-yard pass and a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kameron McKnight — not to mention countless sacks and stops on the defensive side.
Beckwith and the Tiger defense limited the Wolves offense to 137 yards on 39 carries and 118 passing yards — most of which came once the game was secured in the fourth quarter.
“We lost to a good football team,” Rayne coach Curt Ware said. “They were really, really on tonight. They just had too much speed, too much quickness for us.”
It was never close from the opening whistle as the Tigers received the ball and drove the length of the field in less than two minutes to open the scoring with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to junior wide receiver Danny Johnson Jr.
After forcing a three-and-out on Rayne’s ensuing possession, EFHS scored again on the first play from scrimmage on a 65-yard scoring pass from Hawkins to McKnight to put the Tigers up 13-0 early.
“The kids just came out ready to play,” Anderson said. “We knew we had to start fast on them. They’re a really good team, but we were able to make some plays early on defensively as well as offensively. That did it for us.”
Hawkins added a third touchdown pass in the first quarter, this time to Joshua Davis from 15 yards out.
At halftime, the Tigers led 33-3 and tacked on another score early in the third on a 24-yard pass from Hawkins to McKnight.
Tyler Hanks had a 10-yard TD run in the third quarter for Rayne.
“Tonight, I felt we lost to a better team,” Ware said. “They’ve got a good football team. I think they’ve got a chance to win the whole thing. They’ll be tough to beat for anybody.”