DENHAM SPRINGS — Scotlandville High coach Eric Randall was at a loss to describe the transformation he witnessed in his team as the Hornets claimed a 34-24 win over Denham Springs High Friday night at DSHS.
The Hornets trailed by three points at halftime and came from behind twice in the second half before securing the win with a zig-zagging 32-yard touchdown run by senior running back Orrin Butler, who finished with a game-high 105 yards on 13 carries.
“It’s been tough on these kids because these seniors have had to learn four different systems since they’ve been here,” Randall said, noting recent coaching changes in the program. “I told them at halftime it was like watching your own son grow up out there on the field before your very eyes. I can’t think of the words to describe these kids. They never gave up and they kept fighting. They grew up and became men tonight.”
Junior quarterback Darion Williams threw for 271 yards on 10-of-16 passing. Williams threw two interceptions but also tossed touchdown completions of 74 and 54 yards to fellow junior Dontrell Hilliard.
Randall said Williams was a key factor in what was the District 4-5A opener for both teams.
“He was playing behind an outstanding quarterback last year and only came in for mop-up duty,” Randall said. “But he has come a long way as a leader and a performer. This was definitely a marquee win for our program.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Scotlandville (3-2, 1-0) contained one of Denham’s most potent offensive weapons, Blanchard. The senior had 14 yards on 17 carries.
Blanchard scored all three of Denham’s touchdowns, including a 90-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that gave the hosts a 14-6 lead, but also had five carries for negative yardage.
Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said Scotlandville dominated the DSHS offensive line.
“Their front seven won control of the line,” Nettles said. “You have to control the line and block those linebackers and we didn’t do that very well tonight. We didn’t do enough offensively to extend our lead and gain the momentum, and they made more big plays than we did.”
One bright spot for Denham (3-3, 0-1) was defensive back Andrew Ayres, who had two interceptions. The second set up what Denham hoped to be the winning touchdown.
Ayres picked off a pass and returned it to the Scotlandville 25. Blanchard later scored on a 1-yard run. David McKey’s conversion put the hosts ahead 24-21. But Scotlandville countered with an eight-play scoring drive.
The two teams played a see-saw second quarter, exchanging scores until Denham finally emerged with a 17-14 advantage at halftime. DSHS opened the second quarter with a scoring drive that started at midfield, highlighted by Zach Borne’s 17-yard completion to Sterling Suggs and a 12-yard Borne run.
Blanchard scored on a 3-yard run and David McKey’s conversion gave the Jackets a 7-0 lead.
Hilliard surprised the Jackets on the next play. He took an outlet pass from Williams on the left side and ran down the numbers for a 74-yard touchdown. The conversion failed, however, as Denham held a slim 7-6 lead.
Blanchard wasted little time answering the Hornets, taking the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to widen Denham’s lead. Denham had an opportunity to take control of the game after Ayres made his first interceptionand ran it back to the SHS 23. Sophomore defensive back Martin Battiste came through for the Hornets, blitzing into the backfield and dropping Borne for a 15-yard loss to force a punt.
Scotlandville put together an 80-yard, 11-play scoring drive featuring a 25-yard run by senior Butler and a 20-yard reception by Harmon that set up a 1-yard scoring run by Williams. Hilliard’s two-point PAT run tied the score at 14-14.
Denham answered by driving down to the 25-yard line where McKey drilled a 35-yard field goal to put the Jackets ahead 17-14 at the half.
The Jackets missed a scoring opportunity in the third period, pinning the guests back against their own goal line and taking advantage of a 19-yard punt to gain possession at the Hornet’s 23.
But Battiste dropped Borne in the backfield for the second time in the game and McKey’s 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The Hornets grabbed their first lead of the night midway through the third quarter when Hilliard raced 54 yards for a touchdown.
Denham will host Live Oak on Thursday night. Scotlandville will host Walker on Friday.