Everything was under control.
Plaquemine and Westgate were locked in a back-and-forth game to open the Class 4A state playoffs and the Green Devils had just made it a one-score game with a 16-yard touchdown run by Melvin McClay.
But Kayshon Boutte had a different idea, taking back the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for the back-breaking touchdown to send No. 25 Westgate on its way to a 56-35 upset over No. 8 Plaquemine.
Instead of the start of a championship run, Friday night quickly spiraled into the second straight first-round exit for the Green Devils as a Top-10 seed.
“Westgate played a great game and our kids played hard,” Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. Three turnovers really hurt us, the kickoff return was crucial. They were by far the better team tonight. That’s the bottom line.”
The funny thing about Boutte’s game-changing return is that no one was more surprised by its result than he was.
The top overall prospect in the state of Louisiana for the 2020 class thought he stepped out of bounds when he tripped while making the catch at the 7-yard line. But as he regained his balance, he made a defender miss, and with no whistles, took off down the sideline.
It was the third and final long-scoring play for the wide receiver and safety, including touchdown receptions of 45 and 56 yards earlier in the night. Distefano said it was the play that set in motion the win for Westgate.
A 4-star commitment to LSU in two years, Boutte caught 11 balls for 169 yards, by far the most productive player on either team. He also ran for another 20 yards on four touches.
Friday is the first postseason win for Westgate since 2013 and the Tigers will now host the program’s first ever playoff game next Friday.
“The offense came together as one,” Boutte said. “We made big plays.
“When everybody is out there we have a good team. We struggled with running back at the beginning of the season and the quarterback was out the first four games (due to injuries), so it feels good to be healthy.”
The big plays from Westgate were ultimately what doomed Plaquemine.
The first half was a neck-and-neck game with both sides tied at 21 at halftime. Even when the two teams combined for two touchdowns in roughly a minute of game time to start the third quarter, the Green Devils held a one-point lead due to a missed extra point by Westgate.
But a 47-yard run by Jordan Doucet and then Boutte’s second touchdown reception gave the Tigers some breathing room.
Forced to abandon its run-first approach for a pass-heavy offense playing catch up, Plaquemine struggled to regain ground.
Green Devils running backs McClay and Earl Young combined for 214 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown each.
“It was a great season,” Distefano said. “A lot of fun this year. I thought we had a great team. We just got beat tonight.”