Pelicans use three QBs in win
PORT ALLEN — Port Allen High School came into Friday night’s matchup against McMain perfect on the season at 2-0.
The Pelicans were less than perfect in their performance at Otwell Stadium, but the end result was ultimately the only thing that mattered as they ran their record to 3-0 with a 21-12 win over the Mustangs.
Because of injuries, Port Allen used three quarterbacks in the game. Darian Claiborne and Caleb Johnson passed for 74 and 72 yards, respectively. Claiborne and Johnson rushed for more than 50 yards apiece. Jestin Kelly was Port Allen’s leading rusher with 103 yards on 24 carries and two TDs.
“That was exactly what I expected,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “Two great teams going at each other.”
Quarterback Omari Jones led McMain (1-2) with 124 yards and two touchdowns passes. One went to Michael Andrade and the other to Khalil Smith. Andrade led all Mustangs receivers with 68 yards.
“We had opportunities, but we didn’t take care of the ball on offense like we should have,” McMain coach Kevin Roussell said. “Our defense put us in good positions, but we didn’t capitalize.”
The two teams went toe-to-toe in the opening quarter, and it took until the 17th minute of the game for the deadlock to be broken as Kelly rushed up the middle from 8 yards out to give the Pelicans a 6-0 lead. Kelly then took the snap on a fake extra-point attempt and rushed in again to put Port Allen up 8-0.
The Pelicans struck again with 2:38 remaining in the first half when Claiborne lofted the ball 35 yards to Kyle Moore, who hauled in the touchdown pass in the front of the end zone.
McMain responded with a touchdown of its own, on an equally well-thrown ball by Jones to Smith for a 22-yard strike. The Mustangs’ scoring drive was costly for the Pelicans as Claiborne limped off with a hamstring injury on the scoring play.
With little more than a minute remaining in the half, the Pelicans added to their lead. Johnson, who already had 43 yards rushing on offense and an interception on defense, drove the Pelicans straight down the field with a four-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Kelly.
Port Allen’s first two drives of the second half ended in lost fumbles, giving the Mustangs good position and prime opportunities to get back in the game.
McMain capitalized on the second fumble with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Andrade, capping a drive that included a 30-yard run by Malik Arnold on fourth-and-long.
The Pelicans were dealt another blow under center late in the third quarter when Johnson was temporarily knocked out of the game. Freshman Alex Hebert became Port Allen’s third quarterback of the night, and lost a fumble when he failed to control the snap on fourth-and-10.
Johnson re-entered at quarterback on the following drive and settled Port Allen down, and the Pelicans were able to keep the Mustangs out of the end zone for the remainder of the game.