Panthers claim district runner up spot with win over Pelicans
The West Baton Rouge Championship Banner and a District 7-3A runner-up spot went to the Brusly Panthers after a 31-8 win over Port Allen in the 42nd annual Sugarcane Classic at Panther Stadium.
The Panthers finished their regular season run 8-2 and 4-1 in 7-3A, while Port Allen closed out 7-3 and 3-2. Both teams head into post-season playoff action Friday.
The victory marked the second consecutive year the Panthers prevailed over the Pelicans in the annual rivalry battle, which dates back to 1966 and was played all but a couple years since the inaugural contest.
Unlike previous years when the battle went down to the wire, Brusly took control at the onset and locked the gates on Port Allen.
The Panthers rolled to a 14-0 halftime advantage and doubled its lead in the third quarter. The Pelicans remained scoreless until the fourth stanza.
“We wanted to start fast and finish the game,” Brusly coach Erik Willis said. “We wanted to play four quarters, and I can’t say enough about this team. The momentum is in our favor going into Week 11, and that’s been our goal from the start.”
The lopsided win came as a bit of a surprise to Willis.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” Willis said. “I thought it would be a four-quarter game but the kids played hard and were able to get away from them in the third quarter.”
Port Allen held back Brusly much of the first quarter, but the Panthers broke loose with a minute left when quarterback Jay Christophe connected with Travin Thibodaux for a 23-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-5 to end a 78-yard scoring march.
Thiobdaux struck once more in the first half, this time on a 57-yard dash that put him into the end zone after he staved off three PAHS defenders.
“I just did what I could do to help my team win, and for my brother, No. 72, Justin Warner,” Thibodaux said.
Port Allen lost scoring opportunites on a 10-yard scoring pass called back on a holding penalty, which spilled out into unsportsmanlike conduct flags that put the Pels in a fourth-and-26.
“I hope you print it… it’s the official’s fault,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “We will not be using this association again in Port Allen. I’ve been a part of some horrible football games in Port Allen, but none of them were officiated this bad.
“First of all, a sideline official called back a pass that a back judge called completed,” he said. “They called a touchdown back on a guy who wasn’t even on the field. It’s terrible, The Baton Rouge Association is terrible.”
Blanchard still gave Brusly its props.
“Hats off to them. They did a great job,” he said. “They came out ready, played a great game and deserved to win. I hope to see them somewhere down the road. I hope both of us can keep carrying on.”
Things didn’t get better for Port Allen in the second half. Caleb Henderson intercepeted a Darian Claiborne pass for a 41-yard touchdown.
Later in the quarter, the Pelicans punted deep from their own territory and gave Brusly great field position on that posession. A Christophe pass, one keep and a Darien Cobbs 1-yard sneak gave the Panthers their second TD in the third.
Blake Manola came through on all four extra-point kicks.
The Pelicans avoided the shutout in the fourth quarter when Claiborne found fellow senior Caleb Johnson for an 18-yard scoring pass. Jestin Kelly ran for the two-point conversion.
Christohpe fnished the night with 106 yards passing and ran for 172 yards to lead the Panthers.
Claiborne went 11-for-32 for 140 yards.
Johnson led receiving with eight catches for 107 yards.
Kelly led the Pelican ground attack with 102 yards on 10 carries.