Port Allen head coach Guy Blanchard got plenty of what he wanted to see from his team Thursday in the Placid Refinery Jamboree.
The nine-year head coach saw his team make some costly mistakes, but compensated with a solid rushing attack that led the Pelicans to a 12-6 win over the Albany Hornets.
DeMarcus Franklin punched in two touchdowns to power Port Allen, while a Josh McClain TD propelled the Hornets in the first half.
Albany used an onside kick to catch the Pelicans off-guard on the opening kickoff – and the effort paid off nicely. Eight plays later, the Hornets cashed in their efforts on a goal-line touchdown at the 7:49 mark.
“We meant to kick it deep, but I’ll never tell anyone else that – it’s what we planned,” Albany Head Coach Blane Westmoreland said.
Albany running back Josh McClain broke loose 15 yards on a fourth-and-4 for a first down. The Hornets used short gains to pick up a first down at the PAHS 12.
“Josh is a good back for us, a good leader and one of our senior captains,” Westmoreland said. “Give him the ball and he’ll make things happen.”
The Hornets got some help from Port Allen on an offsides flag that put AHS within the 10.
Port Allen’s generosity shined again two plays later, this time on a personal foul that moved the Hornets inches from the goal line, which allowed McClain to score on a pileup the following play. The Pelicans squashed quarterback Syklier Lehmann’s two-point conversion attempt.
PAHS kept Albany’s celebration brief, as DeMarcus Franklin busted through the gate for an 80-yard kickoff return. The Pelicans came up short on their conversion try, which left the score tied 6-6.
“I’m glad that happened because it showed us a weakness and where we need to improve,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “We made way too many mistakes – we played like sophomores at some points, and played up to our potential at other times.”
The Pels tried to stymie the Hornets on a short lob, which Tanner House carried to the Albany 39. Two plays later, AHS found its way to Pelican territory.
The Port Allen defense, led by Terion Thomas and Ashley Bynum, stopped Lehmann for a loss of 7 yards.
Flags on both teams kept the ball around the Port Allen 30. The Pelicans then followed with a Morris Miller sack on Lehmann that cost the Hornets 5 yards.
The penalty bug bit Port Allen again, this time on a holding call that scratched Franklin’s 80-yard TD scamper.
Port Allen remained stranded deep in its own territory until the Pelicans punted the ball back shortly before the haftime buzzer.
Numbers – or a lack thereof – took a toll on the Hornets during the second half.
The second half opened with Lehmann’s 17-yard completion to Tanner House that put Albany at its own 30. Four plays later, Hebert connected with McClain on a 20-yard pass that put the Hornets at the Pelican 38.
Albany could not capitalize on the gain and punted back to the Pels, who took over at their own 17. A 25-yard Franklin sprint and an offsides penalty against the Hornets put the Pelicans near midfield.
“Skylar is a freshman, so we’re trying to fine tune him,” Westmoreland said. “He’s playing well ahead of a freshman quarterback.
“We’d like to have had things go better, but we’re leaving here with our heads held high,” he said.
The Hornets managed a sack on sophomore quarterback Alex Hebert for a loss of 9 yards and a fourth-and-18, which forced PAHS to return possession to AHS.
McClain broke through the middle for a 30-yard gain that put the Hornets at the Pelican 35. Lehmann then found House for a pass to the 22, but lost 5 yards on an off-sides call the next play.
Morris Miller and Therione Thomas sacked Lehmann on the following play for a loss of 5 yards, but Lehmann came back with a 7-yard toss to Ingram that put the Hornets at the Pelican 16.
The Hornets lost possession on downs the following play when senior Charles George plowed into Lehmann for a 12-yard loss that gave PAHS possession at its own 27.
“Our defense will be a strong point for us,” Blanchard said. “The front is good, but we still need some work on our secondary and linebackers.”
A rejuvenated Port Allen gradually worked its way downfield, first off Hebert’s 18-yard completion to Franklin that put PAHS at the 45. A holding penalty cost the Pels 5 yards the next play, but Hebert followed with a 40-yard completion to Franklin for a first-and-goal.
Franklin coasted through the goal line from the 5 to stretch the Pelican lead to 12-6. The Pelicans came up short on the two-point conversion pass.