Held in check for a half, John Curtis unleashed a devastatingly quick running game in the third quarter and ran to a 29-8 Division I select semifinal victory over Scotlandville on Friday night at the Shrine on Airline.
The Patriots (11-1) advance to a Dec. 9 state championship meeting against fourth-seeded Catholic of Baton Rouge, a 14-6 winner over Evangel on Friday night. It will be the first state title game since 2014 for Curtis, a school that has 26 championships.
Curtis' third-quarter stampede began with two touchdowns in less than five minutes and a third late in the quarter. The Patriots expanded an 8-0 halftime lead to 29-0.
Their running fury came on three plays:
• a 70-yard run by Malik Wells to make it 15-0 with less than a minute played in the second half
• a 36-yard scamper by quarterback Collin Guggenheim 2½ minutes later that made it 22-0
• a 61-yard run from Corey Wren — his only carry of the game — with 2:45 remaining in the period that made it 29-0
For the night, the Patriots ran for 386 yards. Wells gained gained 97 yards on 10 carries, and Ernest Jones gained 87 on seven carries. Darryan Washington, who scored on a 34-yard run in the first quarter, finished with 97 on nine carries.
“We made some adjustments in our inside blocking and picked up our tempo a little bit and had opportunities to make some nice plays,” said Curtis coach J.T. Curtis. “That was huge. We knew our offensive line had to come through, and they did.”
Quarterback Guggenheim said this Curtis team “is a special group. They make my job way easier.”
Except for two long runs of 52 and 34 yards, Curtis’ run game was held in check in the first half by the Hornets’ defense and ball control: Scotlandville ran 37 offensive snaps to Curtis’ 22 before halftime.
“They widened their splits and ran some low traps (after halftime),” Scotlandville coach LaVanta Davis said.
Wren’s 61-yard run capped off a three-play 96 yard burst. It followed a goal line stand that featured six snaps inside the 10 by Scotlandville.
“We just had to take care of our business here tonight,” Curtis said. “I thought we did a nice job of that. You have to congratulate the defense for taking a team like this and holding them to that few points.”
Scotlandville (9-2) dominated time of possession in the first half, racking up 10 first downs to Curtis’ five. But the Jackets committed 11 penalties, including eight illegal procedure fouls in the first two quarters.
There were more procedure penalties in the second half.
“I asked all night (about the procedure calls), for an explanation,” Davis said. “I never got an answer.
“I’ve got to tip my hat to my players because they fought hard for four quarters. I’m proud of them ... we just fell short of our goal.”