West Feliciana too much for Richwood in Class 3A championship
NEW ORLEANS – Playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the first time in school history Friday night, the West Feliciana Saints marched in with a purpose.
The result was a Class 3A state title for these Saints thanks to a 40-21 victory over the Richwood Rams for the school’s first ever state championship.
West Feliciana (14-1) exploded for 367 yards of total offense and 243 kickoff and punt return yards, led by the dynamic duo of Derek Turner and Davon Harris. The duo combined for 224 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. Additionally, Harris proved to be just as unstoppable on special teams, setting a new LHSAA Prep Classis record for kickoff return yards with 167 yards in the game. Harris’s efforts rightfully won him the Class 3A Most Valuable Player for West Feliciana.
“Words can’t describe it. It’s awesome,” said West Feliciana head coach Robb Odum said about being state champions. “We’ve been so close and we finally got over the hump. I’m just so excited for these young men. It almost gets me to tears. They deserve this, their teammates deserve this.”
For Richwood (11-4), the journey to obtain the school’s first state championship since 1974 ran out of gas due in part to a trio of missed opportunities in the first half. Three times in the first quarter the Rams had possession inside West Feliciana territory and failed to put score points on any of the drives.
The Rams amassed 298 yards of total offense, led by Joseph Smith’s 152 yards passing and Geor’Quarius Spivey’s 117 yards receiving including two touchdowns. But the offensive effort was not enough to overcome the big play ability of West Feliciana.
“It was Number 6’s [Davon Harris] speed,” said Richwood head coach Robert Arvie on West Feliciana’s playmaking ability. “I thought we contained 11 [Derius Davis], I thought we contained their quarterback, it was just the things Harris [did]….he was dynamic tonight, he was special tonight.”
The Saints expectedly displayed first time jitters and nerves, leading to a slow offensive start for their explosive offense. The Rams returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the West Feliciana 48 yard line, and then connected on a 40 yard pass on the first offensive play of the game to quickly put the Saints back against the wall just a minute into the game. However, the Saints defense rose to the occasion and forced a turnover at their own 2 to keep the game scoreless and give West Feliciana a chance to catch their breath.
However, even with the missed opportunities in the first quarter of action, it would be the Rams who would draw first blood in the contest. Smith connected with Spivey for a 31 yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, giving the Rams their only lead 7-0 with 11:52 to play in the half.
With the nerves and jitters fully out of their system, the Saints quickly went to work answering the Richwood score with points of their own on three straight possessions. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Turner broke free and raced 73 yards for the touchdown, tying the game at 7-7 with 11:30 to play in the half.
A 63 yard punt return by Derius Davis set the Saints up with first and goal at the Rams 5 yard line, setting the table for a 20 yard Luke Stelly field goal to give the Saints a 10-7 lead with 7:06 to play in the half.
Keeping the pedal to the metal, West Feliciana added to the lead with a 9 play 78 yard drive on the next possession, capped off by a 6 yard touchdown pass from Turner to Clayton Howard. The extra point attempt failed, giving the Saints a 16-7 halftime lead.
The Saints attempted to deal the Rams a knockout blow to start the second half. Harris returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, extending the West Feliciana lead to 23-7 with 11:45 to play in the third quarter.
Richwood would not be fazed. The Rams answered with consecutive scores of their own to get back into the contest. Smith connected with Spivey again, this time for a 58 yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion rush cut the Saints lead to 23-15 at the 10:29 mark in the third quarter.
A West Feliciana turnover at the Richwood 35 again set the Rams up in terrific field position and this time they would capitalize on the chance. Anthony Watson broke free off the left side for a 17 yard touchdown run on the eighth play of the drive. However, Watson was stuffed on the two point attempt, preserving the West Feliciana lead at 23-21 with 5:29 to play in the third quarter.
It was as close the Rams were able to come to West Feliciana, who hit the gas pedal again and never looked back.
Another huge kickoff return by Harris, this time for 67 yards, put the Saints at the Richwood 7 yard line, setting up a 6 yard touchdown run by Harris to extend the lead back out to 30-21 with 4:21 to play in the quarter.
“We knew our senior year we were going to win it all,” said Harris about the team’s state championship.
The Saints would put a stamp on the state championship with a touchdown run by Davis and another field goal by Stelly late in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to the final tally of 40-21.
When asked how his team could celebrate the state championships, West Feliciana Head Coach Odum said “Well, I’m sure we’ll find a couple ways down here in New Orleans.”
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