West St. John Rams back where they belong

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It looks like the West St John Rams are back where they belong.

After losing in the Class 2A quarterfinals the last two years, Class 1A No. 1 seed West St. John put itself back into the semifinals with a solid 26-6 victory over No. 8 Jonesboro-Hodge Friday night at Dinvaut Stadium in Edgard.

The 9-3 Rams, who had reached the Class 1A semis four straight years from 2011 to 2014, will host No. 5 Logansport next week.

“It shows the character and the fortitude of this team,” said Rams coach Brandon Walters. “They’re young in spots and it showed tonight in a lot of places, but we have a lot of veteran kids in the spots where we need them and they had it on their minds that they wanted to be successful, they wanted to work.”

The Tigers and the Rams were nearly mirror-image teams, right down to the team uniforms. Both also liked to run the ball – a lot. 

Jonesboro-Hodge workhorse running back Kameron Booker rushed for 130 yards on 32 carries, but scored only one touchdown. Quarterback Reginal Shallowhorn passed for 129 yards and was intercepted twice.

The Rams, on the other hand, rolled up 332 rushing yards with Kylan Duhe, Dontrell Davis and Niko Davis. All three scored touchdowns, but Davis scored two in the second half, added a 2-point conversion run and nabbed an interception on defense. On his second touchdown, he hit the line and moved it with him 18 yards to the end zone.

“The offensive line helped out a little bit,” he said. 

Walters said his team took too long to get going and has lots to work on before next week.

“They hit us hard early in the game,” Walters said. “We had to get their heads together at halftime, kind of chewed them out a little bit and just let them know why we’re here and let them know that, the last two years, this is where we stopped.”  

West St. John owes this one to its defense, which held Booker in check for much of the night, came up with crucial stops, turnovers and sacks. The Rams recovered three fumbles, intercepted twice and forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs three times. 

Shallowhorn was sacked six times, usually by  Kelon Gardner and Johnathan Porter.

“We work hard and practice and try to roll that over into the game,” Gardner said. “It’s very big for us.” 

Covan Barnes, meanwhile, came up with a pair of fumbles, both of which led to Rams touchdowns.

“We played special tonight,” Barnes said of the defense. “I kept saying, ‘Be special tonight,’ and that’s what we did.”

There was no score in the first quarter. The Rams fumbled and punted and the Tigers ran 12 plays without scoring.

But after Barnes recovered his first fumble with 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Duhe broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. The kick failed, leaving the Rams ahead 6-0. 

 Jonesboro-Hodge tied the game with 2:19 remaining when Booker scored the Tigers’ lone touchdown on a 3-yard run. Their kick failed as well.

 The Tigers had another chance to score, but on the final play of the half Wantrell Williams intercepted Shallowhorn’s pass in the end zone as time expired. 

Barnes’ second fumble recovery led to the Rams’ second touchdown in the third quarter. It came at the Tigers’ 36-yard line with 8:30 remaining in the period. Two runs and a Tigers offsides call later, Davis scored with 7:59 remaining. The 2-Point conversion failed.

The Rams made it 18-6 with their longest drive — 70 yards on nine plays. Duhe broke free for a 17-yard score with 10:09 remaining in the game.

After forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs at the West St. John 25, the Rams reached the end zone with a 9-play drive. Davis broke one run for 14 yards, another for 15. Then from the 18, he hit the line and moved it all the way to the goal. Davis ran for the 2-Point conversion. 

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