Ouachita Parish won the turnover battle and the game in a Class 5A second-round playoff game at Denham Springs on Friday night.
The Lions recovered three second-half fumbles — one that Winston Sanders returned 95 yards for a touchdown — and No. 11 Ouachita Parish rallied to defeat no. 27 Denham Springs 20-14.
Denham Springs (6-5) had a final chance as it drove inside the Ouachita Parish 35 with 1:30 left to play. Lineman Phil Bradford forced a fumble by Yellow Jackets quarterback Jerry Horne, and Carmycah Glass recovered to end the threat.
Ouachita (12-1) ran out the clock to end the game.
The Lions rushed for 275 yards, a total that included 163 yards on 13 carries by quarterback Zach Jackson. Carldell Sirmons rushed six times for 61 yards
Denham Springs got touchdown passes from Jerry Horne and Ray McKneely. Horne completed 5 of 7 passes for 73 yards, but he was sacked twice in the second half as the Lions defense kept the pressure on.
McKneely rushed 27 times for 95 yards.
HOW IT WAS WON
Denham Springs led 7-6 at halftime, but one play changed the game’s momentum.
After holding Ouachita Parish on downs at midfield on its opening drive of the second half, Denham Springs steadily moved downfield. On second-and-goal at the Ouachita Parish 3, McKneely ran left and lost the ball while being tackled near the sideline. Defensive back Winston Sanders picked the ball up and ran unimpeded as he scored the go-ahead touchdown.
On the ensuing Denham Springs series, Micah Harrison fumbled at the Ouachita 24. Two plays later, Sirmons bolted up the middle for a 46-yard touchdown run to give Ouachita a 20-7 lead.
Denham Springs made it a one-score game on McKneely's 7-yard TD pass to Andrew Goodwin, leading to one last chance with time running down. Horne led the Jackets from their own 20 to the Ouachita 32 before a fumble ended their hopes.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Defensive back Winston Sanders, Ouachita Parish
The Lions senior came up with the play of the game by returning a Ray McKneely fumble 95 yards down the Denham Springs sideline for a momentum-changing touchdown. Instead of being down by at least a touchdown, Ouachita took the lead and played inspired football the rest of the game.
THEY SAID IT
Denham Springs coach Brett Beard: “The ball came out kind of late (on the fumble return). You could argue that they could have marked (McKneely) down, but it's a call by the official that went against us. (Ouachita) made the play and we did not. It was a tough play.
"We went through a lot of turmoil, a lot of ups and downs this season. These seniors are leaving behind a foundation that really has a chance to grow and be special.”
Ouachita Parish coach Todd Garvin: “We only had the ball three times in the first half so you had to be productive; you had to score when you had the opportunity. Turnovers were big tonight. Our defense did a tremendous job (forcing the fumble return). I think they had a 14- or 15-play drive, and we could have given in. We made them keep taking another step and finally something good happened.”
- Each team had three possessions in the first half, and four in the second.
- Ouachita, which had the ball at the end of both halves, punted once, was stopped at midfield on downs and had a field goal attempt blocked on top of its three touchdowns.
- Minus two TD drives, Denham Springs punted twice and lost three fumbles.