Those in attendance at Panther Stadium Friday night witnessed history.
The Brusly Panthers defeated the Marksville Tigers 34-20 to advance past the second round for the first time in school history Friday night.
Brusly (7-5) will travel to face No. 1 seed St. James, which defeated Green Oaks, 41-8.
“I think it was about us just settling into the ballgame,” said Brusly head coach Hoff Schooler. “It was a lot of excitement built up. Nobody, no coaches, no kids got down. We just knuckled down and kept on playing.
“We just played our game,” he continued. “It’s been the same game all year. A close game at halftime and the second half, these kids found a way to play harder and hit another gear and go finish a ballgame. That’s what they did tonight. They knew what was at stake. They didn’t want it to end right here at home.”
Things did not go in Brusly’s favor early on.
The Panthers fumbled the opening kickoff and fumbled again on the team’s first drive and Marksville took advantage of both blunders, earning a 13-0 lead thanks to Daniel Miller’s 13-yard run for the first score and Te’Darius Weaver’s 19-yard touchdown pass.
Brusly fought back with 14 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
Nick Penell connected with Sammy Daquano for a 10-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-7. Durell Hamilton’s interception killed Marksville drive and set up Josh Westly’s 65-yard touchdown run that gave the Panthers the lead.
Dale Gordon’s 6-yard run gave Brusly a 20-13 lead with 6:47 left in the third quarter before Weaver tied things up with a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth down on the ensuing drive.
Westly added two scores in the fourth quarter. The first came from two yards out with a little over nine minutes left in the game and the backbreaking 70-yard touchdown run came less than two minutes later to put the home team up two scores.
The junior finished the night with 279 yards on the ground with three scores.
“Coach kept telling me to trust the cut,” Westly said referencing his final touchdown run. “At first I kept bringing it inside and then I trusted it and I felt it and I was like I gotta go.”
Penell earned 98 yards rushing to help the Panthers eclipse the 300-yard rushing mark.
Brusly faced what could be viewed as a gauntlet of a schedule the entire year, which was by design, according to the head coach.
He said the regular season helped prepare his team for the moment and the opportunity to play in Week 13 for the first time in program history.
“That seeding was just a number,” Schooler said. “That’s just a way to match people up. It’s still all good football teams. That was the round of 16. Everybody is a good football team. Now it’s the round of eight and everybody is an exceptional football team when you get to this point, so that’s the way we approach it. We’ve been playing good football teams all along. It wasn’t any off weeks for us and that was part of having a tough schedule and having yourself prepared for this moment right here.”