Baseball teams have closers. Southern Lab football has a finisher.
Running back Tyrion Davis overcame a first-half injury and ran for three of his four touchdowns in the second half as the Class 1A No. 1 Kittens clinched the District 6-1A title with a 28-9 victory against Kentwood at A. W. Mumford Stadium Friday.
It was the eighth consecutive victory for Southern Lab (9-1, 5-0) ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. Kentwood, ranked No. 5, finished the regular season 8-2 and 3-2 in district play. Both will await the power rankings and playoff pairings to be released Sunday.
Davis, an LSU commitment, had scoring runs of 25, 6 and 4 yards in the second half to go with a 6-yarder in the first half. He rushed for 206 yards on 28 carries and a pair of 2-point conversions despite hurting his shoulder.
“He was unbelievable,” Lab coach Darrel Asberry said. “He had a little shoulder stinger but said, ‘Coach I can go. I’m going to finish it for you.’ ”
Davis didn’t wait long. He bolted 25 yards to cap the Kittens' first possession of the second half and got his last two in the fourth quarter as the large Lab line wore down the visitors.
“I felt strong all night,” Davis said. “It’s about adversity and how much you can bounce back from it. We’re brothers and we’ve been through a lot together.”
Kentwood was held to 125 yards while playing without star receiver and defensive back Trey Palmer, another LSU commitment. He sat out with a high-ankle sprain. The Kangaroos lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions and had a 30-yard loss on a bad punt snap which set up Lab’s first TD.
“Any time you have five turnovers against a team like Lab you’re asking for problems especially when we’re holding out Trey,” Kentwood coach Jonathan Foster said. “Trey could have played but our goal is the state championship. We didn’t want him to re-aggravate it. We had the momentum going into halftime but shot ourselves in the foot.”
Both teams played poorly in the first half with turnovers, penalties and bad snaps on both sides. Kentwood scored first after Lab quarterback Travon Myles lost a fumble at the Kittens' 15. Larry Carter scored four plays later to make it 7-0.
Davis ran 8 yards on third-and-6 before his 6-yard scoring run in the second quarter and the PAT gave Lab the lead. But Kentwood retook the lead on a safety when Myles was called for intentional grounding in the end zone with 29 seconds left in the first half.
Asberry said he and his staff made some half-time adjustments. Myles had a 22-yard run to set up the Davis TD to make the score 20-9 with 7:13 left.
“We were trying to get to the half with a one possession game or the lead,” Asberry said. “The defense continued to play well and gave us an opportunity to make adjustments.”
Lab sacked Kentwood quarterback Terrell Hookfin five times. Edmond Webber had an interception and a fumble recovery while Theodore Knox had a fumble recovery and Dakota Day an interception.