Brusly sets tone early, downs PAHS

BRUSLY — The timing couldn’t have been any better for Brusly to deliver such a performance.

Offensive efficiency, plus defensive dominance equalled a team ready for a postseason run.

Ninth-ranked Brusly scored the game’s first four touchdowns and never looked back en route to a 31-8 home victory Friday over rival Port Allen in the 42nd Annual Sugar Cane Classic.

“We set out here to start fast and finish the game,” Brusly coach Erik Willis said. “We wanted to play four quarters, and I think we did. I can’t say enough about this team. We keep getting better and better, and the momentum’s certainly in our favor going into Week 11 and that was our goal.”

Brusly (8-2, 4-1) ended the regular season with four wins in its last five games and came within a late St. Charles rally of sharing the District 7-3A title with the reigning state champions, who rallied for an 18-14 win over E.D. White.

For the second straight season Port Allen (6-3, 3-2) dropped its regular-season finale to Brusly.

“I’m proud of my kids,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “Those kids played hard and Brusly’s kids played hard. We made mistakes. No doubt about it but it’s hard when you’re not getting a fair shake.”

Senior quarterback Jay Christophe accounted for 278 yards and two touchdowns to lead Brusly’s 317-yard output.

Christophe threw two first-half touchdown passes to Trevin Thibodeax and finished with 106 yards passing. He carried 24 times for a game-high 172 yards, including 94 yards on nine attempts in the first half.

“I thought we pass protected very well and gave Jay a lot of time,” Willis said. “I thought when we had to run the ball, we did. I knew it would come to how we played up front, and Jay had a great game. Defensively, we had a really good game.”

Defensive back Caleb Henderson had the second of four interceptions of Port Allen quarterback Darian Claiborne, making it a 21-0 with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first two minutes of the third quarter.

The Panthers made it 28-0 with 2:33 left in the third quarter on Darien Cobbs’ 1-yard run on fourth down and place-kicker Blake Manola, who kicked four extra points, capped the scoring with an 18-yard field goal with 2:34 to play.

Port Allen avoided a shutout at the 10:24 mark of the fourth quarter when Claiborne connected with Caleb Johnson for an 18-yard touchdown pass and Jestin Kelly added the two-point conversion.

Claiborne, a Texas A&M commitment, completed 11 of 32 passes for 140 yards. Johnson led the way with eight catches for 107 yards. Kelly led the ground game with 102 yards on 10 carries.

The combination of Christophe to Thibodeaux worked for TDs of 23 and 57 yards in the first half.

in the first and second quarter for a 14-0 halftime lead.

Brusly went 7-0 with just over a minute left in the opening quarter when Christophe spotted Thibodeaux, who had two catches for 70 yards, behind coverage for a 23-yard touchdown on fourth-and-5 that capped an eight-play, 78-yard drive.

With two minutes to go before halftime the Panthers didn’t wait long to rely on that duo again with Thibodeaux getting open down the seam and completing a 57-yard scoring play by dragging a couple of defenders the last 5 yards.

Port Allen squandered a pair of potential scoring opportunities that could have easily tied the game at the break.

Brusly linebacker Brendon Alexander dropped back into coverage for an interception of Clairborne at the 4 and brought it out 15 yards. The Pelicans drove once again and had first-and-goal at the 10 and came up empty.

What would have been a 10-yard scoring pass from Claiborne to Johnson was nullified by holding penalty and a subsequent unsportsmanlike call forced a fourth-and-goal from the 26 where Claiborne threw incomplete.

“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.”