BRUSLY — Brusly coach Hoff Schooler was emotional as his No. 24-seeded Panthers held off a comeback effort to upset No. 8 Marksville 34-20 in the Class 3A playoffs Friday, advancing past the second round for the first time in school history.

“We kept playing our game,” Schooler said. “It’s been the same game all year — a close game at halftime and in the second half, these kids have found a way to play harder and go finish a ballgame. They did that tonight. They knew what was at stake, and they didn’t want it to end.”

The Panthers will face No. 1-seeded St. James, which defeated Green Oaks 41-8.

On Friday, running back Josh Westly led the Panthers all game with 279 yards rushing and three touchdown runs, two of which went for 65 and 70 yards. Schooler credited the offensive line for opening up clear lanes for Westly to break big runs.

Neither quarterback attempted much through the air, but Marksville’s Te’Darius Weaver and Brusly’s Nick Penell had their fair share of rush yards. Penell had 98 yards rushing, while Weaver had 82.

It wasn’t easy going for the Panthers all game, though.

Brusly fumbled on the opening kickoff and again on its first offensive possession, and Marksville capitalized on both, taking a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Brusly then scored 14 unanswered points in the second quarter, getting a 10-yard pass from Penell to Sammy Daquano and a 65-yard run by Westly, to lead 14-13 at halftime.

Brusly cornerback Durell Hamilton’s interception of Weaver lead to Westly’s big run to end the half.

“I think it was just settling into the ballgame,” Schooler said. “There’s a lot of excitement built up. Just settle into the ballgame and play our game. I’m really proud because no coaches, no kids, nobody got down. We just doubled down and kept on playing.”

Marksville was plagued by penalties at the start of the second half. The Tigers were forced to punt on their first possession of the third quarter after penalties left them at fourth-and-long, while Brusly once again was able to capitalize on Marksville’s mistakes.

The Panthers scored on their first possession of the third quarter on a three-yard run by Dale Gordon to take a 20-13 lead with 6:47 left in the third quarter.

Brusly missed the extra point, however — and that allowed Marksville to tie the score on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Weaver to Arnold Prevot.

Brusly retook a 27-20 lead to start the fourth quarter on a Westly 6-yard touchdown run.

Westly added a 70-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to ice the game for Brusly.

“I thought our kids fought hard, but there were too many costly mistakes and big plays,” Marksville coach JT Dunbar said. “I though early, we gave them the momentum.”