Sleeping giant John Curtis awakens in playoff win over Scotlandville
It has been the most unusual season for John Curtis Christian.
Losing four times in a single season is unheard of for the Patriots. It has not happened in nearly five decades.
Of course, those losses came to elite programs.
While those losses were difficult to absorb, excruciating losses to powers Acadiana, Karr, Archbishop Rummel and Brother Martin by a total of 20 points, they prepared the elite program that is Curtis well for the playoffs.
Scotlandville discovered that truth Friday night at Mumford Stadium as the Patriots whipped the Hornets 34-14 at Mumford Stadium on the campus of Southern University in Baton Rouge.
Curtis overcame adversity as quarterback Buddy Taylor, who entered the game with an ankle injury, aggravated that injury and had to leave the game. Sophomore Jordan Smith took over and did the job.
Patrick LeBranch rambled 32 yards to give the Patriots an early 7-0 first quarter lead before Caleb Spann scored on a 3-yard run and it was 13-0 Curtis after a missed extra point as the first quarter came to a close.
The Patriots took control of the game when Smith raced 78 yards for a second quarter score and it was 20-0 lead. On the final drive of the half, Kerry McMillion intercepted a C’Zavian Teasett pass in the end zone, one of three interceptions by the Patriots, to preserve the 20-0 lead at halftime.
The Hornets then rallied to make a game of it in the third quarter.
First, Marlon Gunn Jr. ran four yards for a touchdown to make it 20-7.
C’Zavian Teasett connected with Chance Williams on a 39-yard touchdown pass and cut the deficit to 20-14.
The Patriots answered with a long drive, capped off by a 5-yard run by Spann before Dagan Cox pass to Malique Ward for a 2-point conversion and it was 28-14 with under six minutes to play.
Curtis capped off the solid win as Jackson Wallace picked off a Teasett pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown for the final margin of victory.
On the Three Tailgaters Show Saturday morning on 106.1 FM, Patriots coach J.T. Curtis felt his team was ready for the challenge and showed it.
“You are going to have to learn to play in somebody’s back yard,” Curtis said. “We played an undefeated team that had a lot of preparation time and I was very pleased with the way we played and came out with the win.”
Curtis said his team was prepared to play without Taylor.
“I really believe you have to coach every player on your team every day,” Curtis. We work hard on that. It’s the way we’ve always done it.
“We realized going into the game that Buddy would not be full speed and when he went out, we had all three young quarterbacks prepared. Jordan had a big touchdown run. Cox executed the offense really well and we got a fourth quarterback in late in the game. We challenged our offensive line and they responded.”
While the offense handled its business, the Curtis defense was perhaps even better.
“I can’t say enough about our defense, especially down by the goal line where we stopped them a couple of times,” Curtis said. “We had three interceptions. I cannot say enough about them.”
John Curtis (6-4) advances to the semifinals to play at Lee Hedges Stadium in Shreveport against unbeaten Byrd.
The No. 3 seed Yellow Jackets whipped No. 6 St. Augustine 31-14.
A pair of hard-charging, grind-it-out, punishing, running games will be on display in what should be a war of wills. The health of Taylor is certainly a concern for the Patriots.
The very tough regular season schedule put Curtis in a good place, prepared to face anyone in the postseason.
“Our kids have been tested,” Curtis said. “When you go through the fire, your mettle gets tougher. The teams we played put us in a good position. Beating St. Aug got my attention. Coach Mike Suggs has been doing this a long time. He doesn’t get rattled. His teams are fundamentally sound. They use their offense to take advantage of how you play defensively. If you are not sound in what you are doing, he will find a way to exploit it.”
The bear has been poked and has awakened. Don’t sleep on John Curtis.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…