Donaldsonville holds off St. John for District 7-2A title

Peter Silas Pasqua
Donaldsonville’s Bryant Dunn attempts to elude St. John’s Guy Morgan on an 8-yard run in the third quarter of the Tigers’ 13-7 District 7-2A championship clinching victory Thursday night. Dunn rushed for a game-high 209 yards on 27 carries.

PLAQUEMINE - Donaldsonville recovered five St. John fumbles, capitalizing two on way to a, 13-7, District 7-2A victory to claim the championship Thursday night at Andrew Canova Green Devil Stadium.

“Here is the deal,” Donaldsonville head coach Gary Adkins told his team. “2008 district champions right here. 2008 back to back district champions. We are going to come back next week and it is playoff time.”

No. 6 seed Donaldsonville (8-0, 4-0) will host No. 27 Westminster Christian (6-4, 4-2) of District 6-2A Friday night at Floyd Boutte Memorial Stadium in Donaldsonville. No. 21 seed St. John (6-3, 3-1) travels to No. 12 seed St. Helena Central (6-3, 3-1) of District 9-2A Friday.

“We recovered five fumbles,” Adkins said. “That was the difference. They were driving late in the fourth quarter and we got a big fumble recovery. That was huge.

“We held up in the end. It was a great game. We just couldn’t get a lot going on offense. The defense played really well.  We knew it was going to be tough. They have a good program and we it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Bryant Dunn led Donaldsonville with 209 yards on 27 carries.

St. John drove 38 yards in 12 plays to the Tigers’ 28 but an illegal shift on fourth down gave Donaldsonville the ball late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles converted three third downs but Henry Mitchell hit Guy Morgan for a 2-yard loss to set up fourth and long.

Matt Marionneaux dropped Jamar Landry for a 4-yard loss on the first play of the ensuing possession and Donaldsonville elected to take a safety as punter Devon Breaux ran through the back of the end zone with 56 seconds remaining. 

“There was less than a minute to go and I felt our defense could hold them so I wasn’t going to take a chance of them coming and blocking it,” Adkins said. “That is good strategy and it paid off for us.”

St. John quarterback Mike Martinez connected with Josh Johnson out of the backfield for a 10-yard completion on the next series but Eldridge Gipson batted down Martinez’s next pass and after a 6-yard keeper the clock expired.

“I think we just put the ball on the ground,”  St. John head coach Tut Musemeche said. “I am not sure if the conditions had anything to do with it. They put it on the ground too and they got theirs. We didn’t get ours. It was two championship caliber teams slugging it out. We just had some bad football fortune. They were better at recovering fumbles tonight than we were.”

St. John opened the second half with a 17-play, 72-yard drive capped by Johnson’s 5-yard run on an underhand pitch. Martinez hit Shelby Hemingway for a 12-yard completion to convert the first of three third downs and Johnson’s 3-yard run kept the drive alive on fourth down. T.J. Williams’ 8-yard run and Johnson’s 10-yard run converted the other two third downs and Johnson’s 9-yard run set up the score. Kyle Osmer’s kick cut it to 13-7 with 3:18 left to play in the third quarter.

Donaldsonville drove 51-yards in nine plays on the ensuing possession as Bryant Dunn carried six times for 55 yards including two runs for over 20 yards but Marionneaux stopped him on fourth down at the Eagle 19.

Guy Morgan’s 10-yard run brought St. John to midfield on the next series but Aikee Turner recovered Johnson’s fumble a play later, his third of the game.

“He is just a great player,” Adkins said of Turner. “He is the type of guy that can play at the next level. He is a team leader and made some big plays tonight. You have to have guys like that if you want to be successful.”

Donaldsonville got on the board first in the second quarter when quarterback Laine Bailey connected with Todd Joseph for a 35-yard scoring strike after Turner recovered a fumble at the Eagle 26. Breaux’s kick put the Tigers ahead 7-0.

Dunn capped Donaldsonville’s next possession with a 4-yard burst into the end zone after Tre` Sullivan recovered another St. John fumble at the Eagle 21. Dunn’s 16-yard run kickstarted the drive but the kick was blocked leaving the score 13-0 with less than a minute remaining in the half.

Gipson recovered Martinez’s fumble after Jarrett Cole sacked him on the next series but a play later Bailey coughed up the snap that was recovered by the Eagles.

St. John began its first possession of the game at the Tiger 25 after a short punt but Turner recovered Johnson’s fumble and Donaldsonville drove to the Eagle 10 before Marionneaux stopped Bailey short on fourth down.

After an Eagle punt, Dunn broke a 52-yard run to inside the St. John 15 but Corey David stopped him short on fourth down.

Johnson rushed for 108 yards on 20 carries for St. John and Morgan added 87 yards on 24 attempts.

Donaldsonville’s Devonte Brown, Titus Howard and Andrew Brown celebrate the Tigers’ District 7-2A championship after defeating St. John 13-7 Thursday night.