ZACHARY — With both teams entering the final game needing a win to strengthen their playoff résumés, Zachary was able to outlast a late comeback from Denham Springs to secure a 46-41 victory Friday night.
“We made it a little exciting for everyone at the end,” Zachary coach Neil Weiner said. “This gives us a lot of momentum going into the playoffs.”
Despite falling behind early, the Yellow Jackets twice pulled themselves back within one possession, including a fierce attempt to steal the win with two touchdowns inside of two minutes.
“This shows a lot about our character,“ said DSHS coach Dru Nettles. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity and for us not to lay down is just a tribute to this team.”
With the win, Zachary finishes 6-4 overall and 2-3 in District 4-5A, while DSHS is 5-5, 2-3.
Down by 19 points late in the fourth quarter, DSHS quarterback Zach Borne connected with receiver Nolan Satcher for a 6-yard touchdown. After recovering the onside kick, Borne marched his offense down the field and hit Kyandre Brooks for a 10-yard TD with 33 seconds left.
It appeared the Yellow Jackets had recovered a second consecutive onside kick, but officials ruled the DSHS touchED the ball before it traveled 10 yards, giving the ball to Zachary.
Borne completed six of his last 10 passes to pace Denham’s late push. He finished the game with 187 passing yards while also running for 75 yards. Kaleb Blanchard ran for a game-high 189 yards and two TDs for DSHS.
Zachary’s Trey Hills added to his 4-5A lead in passing yards, completing 15 of 26 passes for 206 yards and three TDs. He also ran for a TD.
“Trey did a great job connecting on his passes,” said Weiner. “He has done an awesome job all season long and gave another great effort tonight.”
With Zachary already up 3-0 early in the first quarter, Hills attacked the Yellow Jackets’ defense through the air, completing four of five passes on the drive, culminating with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Justin Kinchen. Boston Scott ran for the two-point PAT to put the Broncos up 12.
Blanchard quickly put Denham Springs back in the thick of things, returning the ensuing kick-off down to the Zachary 40-yardline.
Two plays later, Blanchard took a hand off from Borne and quickly bounced to the outside for a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard.
But the DSHS still had no answer for Broncos fast-paced offense as Hills and Scott quickly moved the ball down the field for a third straight time. With 12 seconds left in the first, Hills took the snap from the DSHS 6-yard line and hooked up with Kentrell Fisher in the corner of the end zone, capping off a thrilling twelve minutes of football with ZHS up 18-6.
Neither team scored in the second quarter. It looked like the Broncos would add to their lead late in the quarter when junior cornerback Stephen Babin picked off a pass from Borne at the DSHS 40.
But Zachary gave the ball right back when fullback Forrest Town fumbled the ball from six-yards out. Denham Springs linebacker Austin Veal quickly pounced on the loose ball to keep the score unchanged going into halftime.
Hills threw five consecutive incomplete passes in the second period. He went into the half accounting for the bulk of the Broncos’ 278 first half yards.
Zachary got offensive again in the second half with Fisher and Hills connecting for a second time, on a 4-yard playto extend to make it 25-6.
However, Borne and Denham Springs did not concede, answering with 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard TD pass to Sterling Sugg. Borne kept the drive alive with crucial first down runs, leading to score.
After forcing a Zachary punt, Blanchard broke off a a 70-yard run up the middle. The extra point by David McKey pulled the Yellow Jackets within five, at 25-20, at to end the third.
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