BOURG – Thursday night’s District 7-4A battle between South Terrebonne and Morgan City featured plenty of big offensive plays but also plagued with seven combined turnovers.
Still, the Gators defense pitched a shutout in the second half, allowing South Terrebonne to pull out a 34-20 victory at South Terrebonne Memorial Stadium.
“There was nothing pretty about it. I was proud of the way they came back in the second half,” Gators coach Richard Curlin said. “The game shouldn’t have been as close as it was. We had too many turnovers.”
“We just didn’t play as well as we should have. Us as coaches, we got to coach them up a little better,” Tigers coach Eric Howard. “We’re not getting anything consistent on other side of the ball. We had a couple of high points, but that’s not getting the job done right now.”
South Terrebonne (2-4 overall, 1-2 district) took the opening possession 67 yards in eight plays, capped by a 10-yard Terrance Sims (18 carries, 256 yards, 3 TDs) touchdown run. Matthew Martin made the point after for a 7-0 lead.
The Gators were on the move on its next drive when Tigers linebacker Morrquise Charles stripped running back Johnathan Smith (eight carries, 109 yards, TD) of the ball and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown. Tristin McCullough missed the point after, keeping the score 7-6.
Morgan City (2-4, 1-1 district) only needed two plays to score on its next drive. Devonta Grogan (10 carries, 118 yards, TD) ran around right end on a 71-yard touchdown. Made the point after for a 13-7 Tiger lead.
Both teams exchanged turnovers to end the first quarter. Gator quarterback Andre Blanchard (1-of-7, 12 yards, 2 INTs) was intercepted by William LaRocca, who returned it to the Gators 28-yard line. On the next play, Grogan fumbled the ball, and Gator lineman Colby Chelette recovered it at the 37.
South Terrebonne’s next drive ended quickly as Smith fumbled, and Morgan City recovered it at the Gators 46.
South Terrebonne regained the lead 14-13 on its next drive as Sims galloped 61 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
Again the squads exchanged turnovers. Gators defensive end Dylan Authement sacked and stripped the ball from Tigers quarterback Alex Brocato, (14-of-24, 130 yards, TD) which was recovered by South Terrebonne’s Donald Dardar at the Tigers 26. However, two plays later, LaRocca intercepted Blanchard in the end zone.
“Right now, passing the ball is our Achilles heel. Until we start completing it, we’re not going to be any better than we are offensively,” Curlin said.
“That’s what we’re predicated on. We’re a turnover defense. We’re kind of a bend-don’t-break style,” Howard said.
Morgan City capitalized, going 80 yards in 13 plays, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brocato to Ke’Sean Francois on 4th and goal.
One the final possession of the first half, South Terrebonne went 71 yards in 36 seconds. Sims accounted for all the yardage, including six-yard touchdown on a jet sweep. Martin missed the point after, leaving the score tied 20-20 at intermission.
“We’re starting to use Terrance more and more. He’s a pretty strong runner and a good receiver,” Curlin said. “He had been hurt for a little while. We’re trying to give him more touches. But it was also the way they were playing. They were overloading the strong side of the field. So we had to run to the boundary on the weak side.”
South Terrebonne quickly went down the field on its initial second half possession. Chelette finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Morgan City put together a 12-play drive that put them at the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter. However, Grogan took a handoff, lunged for the end zone and fumbled the ball away. Gator defensive back David Lirette recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
“At halftime the defensive coaches decided to play man-to-man. We were just standing there in the zone and not doing anything. That was a good decision by them,” Curlin said. “It let us play tighter coverage in the second half. The defense made plays when they had to, especially in the end zone. That was a big momentum change for us.”
“We get to the one-yard line, and then we have a five-yard penalty. Then we can’t get it in. That was pretty much the game,” Howard said. “We have a long way to go. We knew that when we got here.”
Smith sealed the Gators win with a 56-yard touchdown dash in the final minutes.