EUNICE — The Eunice Bobcats had dreams of perhaps winning the District 4-4A title outright Friday night.
The Rayne Wolves, thanks to a 40-18 win Friday night over Washington-Marion and a 20-16 head-to-head win over the Bobcats earlier this season, have that title and will enter the 4A playoffs as the district champions.
Eunice, however, is more than satisfied heading into the postseason as a likely top-10 seed.
After all, those championship dreams almost turned into a nightmare thanks to a feisty LaGrange Gators team long on athletes and grit.
Eunice’s 21-18 win could’ve gone a variety of ways and swung on two key plays, both of which won’t show up as significant in the box score.
Two fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter ultimately gave Eunice the juice it needed to finish off the game. Shaun Hudson broke up a pass on one fourth-down play. The Eunice defense stuffed LaGrange quarterback Quintorus Jones on 4th-and-2 on the other.
With under 11 minutes to play and LaGrange down nine points, Jones rolled right and looked for a receiver in the end zone. Hudson, a sophomore cornerback, dove and outstretched his arm to bat away a potential touchdown pass that would’ve brought the Gators within a score in a second half they largely dominated.
“It was a super play there,” said Eunice head coach Paul Trosclair. “It came when we really needed it.”
The Bobcat defense has been something of a calling card lately, usually generating a turnover that propels the offense.
That turnover never came Friday night. Instead, the Eunice defense weathered the storm and held when it mattered most against a LaGrange offense that strengthened as the game progressed.
“They had chances to beat us late in the game,” Trosclair said.
Even after Eunice (8-2, 3-1) got the pair of stops, its offense became its own worst enemy after jumping out to 15-0 lead in the first quarter. In fact, Eunice didn’t score a single second-half point.
It got scariest late in the game when LaGrange scooped-and-scored a fumble to cut the Eunice lead to three points in the fourth quarter.
But despite his own team’s second-half struggles, LaGrange’s effort didn’t surprise Trosclair in the least.
“It’s kind of what I thought coming in,” he said. “Those guys have been playing 5A football in the past, so we weren’t just going to walk all over them. It’s not that easy. They have athletes. Their quarterback is super. They made some plays, but we made just enough to finish it off.”
Not all wins are pretty, and Trosclair sees benefits to a late-season productive struggle like his team endured Friday night.
“There are some blocking things and some things in the defensive backfield we need to clean up,” he said. “I think we’ll be OK.”
Overall, Trosclair sees his team’s first regular season back in Class 4A as successful.
“It’s a great season (where we) tied for first (in district play)," Trosclair said. "Rayne will go in as No. 1, but hopefully we’ll go in to the playoffs in the top 10 due to power points. We’ll take that."