PORT ALLEN — The Dunham Tigers aren’t ready to relinquish the district crown yet.
Thanks to a sound defensive effort and a prolific rushing attack, particularly in the second half, the seventh-ranked Tigers beat Port Allen 21-6 Friday night at Guy Otwell Stadium to clinch the 8-2A district championship outright.
“I’m really proud of them,” said Dunham head coach Neil Weiner. “Port Allen is a great team and coach (Don) Gibson has done a great job with those guys. They gave us their best shot. We felt like our defense played well but offensively, (in the first half) we were shooting ourselves in the foot, getting behind the chains.
"That’s just tough to overcome when you’re playing good teams, so we really stressed the second half just coming out and being focused and not having those mental mistakes and we didn’t and we were able to move the football pretty good.”
It took Dunham (8-1,4-0) less than three minutes to get on the scoreboard. Facing a fourth-and-4, Anthony Safford avoided the Port Allen rush and found Kalante Wilson wide open across the field for a 36-yard touchdown.
Port Allen (4-5, 3-1) didn’t score until 26 seconds before halftime on Jacoby Howard’s 10-yard run. The blocked extra point left the score at 7-6 heading into the break.
Safford’s 3-yard run midway through the third quarter extended the Dunham lead to 14-6.
Wilson added to the lead early in the fourth on a 5-yard run.
Wilson went into halftime with only nine yards rushing but managed to finish the game with 127 yards on the ground on 18 attempts with a touchdown. He caught two passes for 48 yards and another score.
“At halftime, we talked to our line about just continuing to block down because earlier in the game we were just missing blocks and we corrected,” Wilson said.
The Dunham defensive line lived in the Port Allen offensive backfield causing two interceptions with several sacks. Port Allen head coach Don Gibson said that was the difference in the contest.
“You gotta be able to handle the moment,” Gibson said. “We were in a position to make plays and we didn’t make the plays. I’ve got to give credit to Dunham. They had a heck of a gameplan. The difference in the game was that they beat us up front. Their defensive line beat our offensive line up front.”
Safford completed 9-of-14 passes with 134 yards and a touchdown.
Edward Wilson led Port Allen with 39 yards rushing on nine attempts and Howard completed 11-of-18 yards for 74 yards with an interception.
“Our defensive line did a great job,” Weiner stated. “We have a new defensive line coach and he’s done a fantastic job. Rhett Guidry at defensive end, he’s just constantly in the backfield. He’s been our defensive MVP. We have little guys like Johnny Green and Jackson Jeter who are just tough to block. Our defensive line was really wreaking havoc.”
Kalante Wilson said the team was motivated to keep two streaks alive with the win.
“It was a big deal because I think we’ve won the district championship four years in a row,” he said. “We wanted to keep that and we knew they haven’t won in forty-something years and we wanted to keep that streak for them, too.”