WEST MONROE — Safety Rodaren Alexander and kicker Martell Fontenot personified Zachary High coach David Brewerton’s belief that his team could be a giant killer.
Fontenot kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:36 left in the game. Alexander then batted down a potential game-tying 2-point conversion with 28 seconds remaining and covered the ensuing onside kick to clinch the Broncos’ 29-27 victory over top-seeded West Monroe in a Class 5A semifinal game Friday night at WMHS’ Don Shows Stadium.
“You either want to play in those situations or you shy away from them,” Brewerton said. “These guys wanted it. I never saw any doubt in their eyes. Never a doubt … and they fought for 48 minutes to get it.”
With the win, fourth-seeded Zachary (12-2) advances to play No. 10 Hahnville (12-2) in the Class 5A title game next Saturday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic. It is Zachary’s second title-game appearance in three years. The Broncos won the 2015 title. It was the first loss for West Monroe (13-1).
“When I went out there to kick it (the 40-yard field goal), I thought about a game we lost to Central a couple of years ago,” Fontenot said. “There was a 48-yarder I didn’t make. I didn’t want that to happen again. These guys play so hard. I do my part.”
Fontenot kicked three field goals, averaged 37.5 yards a punt and put two kickoffs in the end zone. Alexander made the final big plays for a Zachary defense that limited West Monroe to 82 yards rushing.
The Broncos led 10-7 at the half and upped that lead to 20-7 in the third quarter with Darweshi Sanders' 2-yard TD run and Fontenot's 29-yard field goal. Sanders finished with 83 yards on 20 carries.
West Monroe running back Slade Bolden, an Alabama commitment, was held to 61 yards on 18 carries with two TDs. Bolden was ineffective as a passer, completing just 2 of 12 for 8 yards and prompting coach Jerry Arledge to bring in Grant Kahnmann in the fourth quarter.
Bolden moved to receiver, and Kahmann completed 8 of 10 passes for 146 yards and led the Rebels to two quick scores. A 5-yard TD run by Bolden followed a fumble on a kickoff that the Rebels’ Colton Harvey recovered.
Suddenly, West Monroe led 21-20 with 7:31 left. Undaunted, Zachary clawed its way to a go-ahead TD. Keilon Brown completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards, none bigger than a 35-yard TD pass to Kris Simmons with 3:05 left that made it 26-21. Brown also ran for a game-high 89 yards.
Another fumble, this one recovered by Bronco linebacker Wes Brady at the WMHS 30, set up Fontenot’s final field goal.
“We knew they were the best team we had played,” Arledge said. “They made plays, and so did we. But I thought the kicker made the difference.”
A 55-yard kickoff return by Cameron Wright put the Rebels back in business on the final drive. Kahnmann’s 4-yard TD pass to Ethan Snowden with 28 seconds left set up Alexander’s heroics. He saw Bolden cut back to catch the 2-point conversion and knocked the ball down.
“I just had to make the play,” Alexander said.