DENHAM SPRINGS — Ouachita Christian brought a championship pedigree into its non-district football game at Denham Springs on Friday night, and the Eagles showed they are well-prepared to make another run at a state title.
With senior quarterback Hunter Herring leading a relentless ground attack, Ouachita Christian took control in the second half on its way to a 47-21 win.
Herring carried 15 times for 221 yards and five touchdowns. He got support from running back Dillon Dougan, who rushed 17 times for 141 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles of District 2-1A improved to 6-1.
Denham Springs (1-7) tried to get running back Ray McKneely in space, but the Eagles kept him bottled up. He finished with 28 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes that totaled minus-2 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Reese Mooney completed 21 of 34 passes for 248 yards with one interception. He threw three touchdown passes, two to senior wide receiver Preston Holwager.
How it was won
The key play came with 4:25 left in the first half. Trailing 14-7, the Denham Springs defense had held Ouachita Christian on downs inside the DSHS 10. But, on second-and-12 from the DSHS 17, Eagles linebacker Noah Lovelady stepped in front of a Mooney pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Ouachita Christian a 14-point lead, and Denham Springs was never within one score of the Eagles again.
Player of the game
Hunter Herring, Ouachita Christian
The Eagles' 6-foot-5 senior quarterback scored on runs of 41, 2, 49, 25 and 29 yards. His best run of the game was a 55-yarder that set up his 2-yard score. From the OCS 42, he ran left and used a stiff-arm to break loose down the left sideline. He appeared to be contained but broke two tackles as he cut back to the middle of the field before being pulled down at the DSHS 3.
They said it
Brett Beard, Denham Springs coach
“These kids have been to the depths of hell and have fought out of it and given us everything. I couldn’t be more proud to be the head coach of Denham Springs watching these kids and the way their brotherhood has grown this year.”
Steven Fitzhugh, Ouachita Christian coach
“That may be one of the best games (Herring) has played, but he does that week in and week out. He’s just a competitor… This was huge for us ... I thought that interception return was the play of the game. It swung the momentum for us and kind of took the breath out of them after they had just made a big play (on defense).”
Denham Springs senior wide receiver caught two touchdowns passes from Reese Mooney against coverages that could not have been more different. On a 31-yard reception in the second quarter, a busted coverage left Mooney 15 yards behind the Eagles defense for an easy score. He scored on a 49-yard reception in the third quarter on a play in which he was hit well before the ball arrived. He managed to pull the pass down, and trotted into the end zone after the defender fell down.
Mooney was shaken up on a screen pass late in the first half, and senior John McDaniel came in for the last two plays. Mooney returned for the second half, and threw two touchdown passes.
The game was homecoming for Denham Springs, which recognized senior Shelby Taylor as its homecoming queen.