Despite being at home against a Class 1A opponent, Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano knew that he couldn’t take Southern Lab lightly. His instincts proved true as the Kittens matched his team blow-for-blow until the Green Devils finally capped off a 27-20 overtime win Friday.
“I told my players all week that Southern Lab is not a typical 1A team,” Distefano recalled. “They have some of the best athletes that we’ve seen all year and are a very good team. I’m proud with how we dealt with adversity.”
Sophomore defensive tackle and goal line fullback Steve Conerly did not check in on offense until the extra period, but his 1-yard plunge into the end zone proved to be the difference in the game and kept Plaquemine undefeated.
“I knew that I had to get us the win,” he said. “I like getting those goal line carries, and I was thinking touchdown right away.”
With a chance to match the score, Southern Lab junior quarterback Bladrick Veal couldn’t connect with Curtlan Williams in the back of the end zone on the game’s final play.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. “But in the grand scheme of things, it shows our resolve as team.”
The Kittens had a chance at victory with 2:40 to go in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 20. But facing a fourth down and short on the Plaquemine 9-yard line, junior tailback Darbbeon Profit was stuffed at the line of scrimmage to turn the ball over on downs.
It was the highlight of the night for a Plaquemine defense that did not allow a point after the second quarter.
“Our defense did a great job in the second half,” Distefano said. “We tackled much better than we did in the first half.”
Rebounding from a hamstring injury that kept him out last week, senior D’morea Wicks led Plaquemine with 62 of the team’s 209 rushing yards. His 24-yard touchdown run at the 3:03 mark in the third quarter knotted the game at 20.
The Green Devils got the scoring started when senior receiver Joe Keller broke free of the Southern Lab defense, which bit on play action. Plaquemine quarterback Louis Conerly, Steve’s older brother, hit the open Keller for a 29-yard score. It was Plaquemine’s only completion of the first half.
The Kittens defense responded. Facing a manageable third down, Louis Conerly tried to scramble for the first down, but Southern Lab sophomore Malcolm Hall stripped the ball and quickly pounced on it.
On the next play, Veal connected with Curtlan Williams for a 38-yard touchdown pass.
“The things that he did tonight showed us why he is a very good quarterback,” Mitchell said of Veal. “We knew that he came into this game hungry.”
Veal finished the game with 16 completions for a game-high 199 yards.
A blocked kick on the point after try kept Plaquemine ahead 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. But after another fumble gave the ball back to Southern Lab, Profit gave the Kittens their first lead of the game on a 24-yard touchdown run.
After a 9-yard touchdown run by Austin Mitchell put Plaquemine up 13-12 with 2:52 to go until halftime, Profit answered with a 15-yard touchdown run on a draw with 51 seconds left.
“He’s a workhorse,” Mitchell said of Profit. “We can’t ask a kid to do anything more than that.”
A nice grab in the corner of the end zone by Telvis Abraham for the two-point conversion sent Southern Lab into halftime with a 20-13 lead.