The Port Allen Pelicans needed a win to clinch a spot in the Class 2A playoffs and they did just that.
Port Allen (3-7, 2-4) jumped out early and the defense forced six turnovers on the way to a 31-0 win over The Church Academy Crusaders Friday night at Guy Otwell Stadium to close out the regular season.
“It was about being able to stay ahead of the chains, being able to have some success early in games,” said Port Allen head coach Don Gibson about his team’s back-to-back 30-point performances. “With a young team, when you have success early, it gives them confidence. We’ve gotten a little confidence over the last couple of weeks from being able to do some things and have some success.”
The Pelicans caught the Crusaders off guard on the opening kickoff with Jared Tisdale’s onside kick, which was recovered by Port Allen’s MeKyle Franklin. A few plays later, Edward Wilson ran it in from 10 yards away for the first score of the evening.
Tisdale’s 35-yard field goal with 4:40 left in the first half gave Port Allen a 10-0 lead.
The Crusaders were driving looking to get points on the board heading into halftime before Franklin picked off a pass in the end zone and took it 105 yards for a score, giving Port Allen a 17-0 advantage at the half.
“I heard them (teammates) say kneel,” Franklin recalled after the game.
“I broke a tackle and I was actually about to kneel, but then I saw Jacoby (Howard) and Ed right there and they were ready to block so I just started running right. I hit the sideline, had a good block by Leroy (Depluche) and I was able to bring it back.”
Wilson tacked on another Port Allen score with 2:05 left in the third on a 52-yard run. The final score came on Jeremiah Dehon’s 1-yard run with 8:45 left.
“We had to dominate,” Wilson said. “If we didn’t and we underestimated these boys, we wouldn’t be playing next week.”
Wilson finished the game with 134 yards on 22 attempts with two touchdowns. Dehon completed 6-of-13 passes for 22 yards.
It was the second straight game Dehon had not committed a turnover and Gibson talked about his freshman quarterback’s growth after the game.
“The young quarterback has made some really good decisions, did a good job of taking care of the football,” Gibson said. “You see growth with him. We’re going to only go as far as he can take us and he’s learning on the job and he’s learning how to be a leader.”
Franklin accounted for five of the Church Academy turnovers with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Jacoby Howard also had an interception.
The Pelicans enter the playoffs as the No. 29 seed with a matchup against No. 4 Rosepine (10-0).