Last year, Christian Campbell’s legs spearheaded the Ponchatoula Green Wave offensive attack.
This year, it looks like Jeb Kraft’s arm will lead the way.
The senior quarterback threw for three first-half touchdowns to pace the Green Wave to a 28-14 win over Covington in the District 6-5A opener Friday night.
“Great play from the offensive line all night long,” Kraft said. “We caught a lot of balls tonight. Covington was really trying to stop our running attack, but that allowed us to find the open receiver and we completed enough passes to get the job tonight.”
“We embrace the expectations level we have as a program now, and winning games like this is apart of that. (Green Wave coach) Hank Tierney said if you want to be a consistent winner, you have to put the work in every day of the year, and the players who watched the starters from last year’s squad are now stepping up and taking their roles. We were not just going to go away.”
Taking the opening kickoff, Kraft led the Green Wave (4-0, 1-0) on an 11-play, 61-yard drive, culminating with a one-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal to Ja’Kyle Holmes to give Ponchatoula a 7-0 lead.
The Lions (2-2, 0-1) answered on their first play from scrimmage when Devin Brumfield scored on a 78-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
Taking advantage of a Covington fumble early in the second quarter, Juan Gross’ 46-yard touchdown run gave Ponchatoula the lead for good at 14-7.
The Green Wave continued to take advantage of Covington mistakes later in the quarter to extend their lead. Forcing Ponchatoula to punt on a fourth-and-30, the Lions were called for roughing the punter, extending the drive. Five plays later, Craft connected with Holmes for their second touchdown, this time from 21 yards out to make it 21-7.
Kraft finished out the impressive first half with his third touchdown pass of the night, a 24-yard strike to Joquan Johnson to make it 28-7 Green Wave.
The senior signal-caller finished with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 7-of-11 passing.
“Jeb played well tonight and made the throws he needed to tonight,” Tierney said. “He is extremely accurate and if we protect him he is going to put the ball where it needs to be most of the time.”
In a losing effort, Brumfield still showed why he is arguably the best player in 6-5A. Only a sophomore, he rushed for 212 yards on 20 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
“We expect things like that from a player the caliber of Devin,” Lions coach Greg Salter said. “Nothing seems to surprise us anymore when you watch him play. That was against a really good team and a very well coached defense which I am for sure game planned all week on figuring out ways to stop him.”