By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers
HAUGHTON – When Mandeville and Haughton – two double-digits seeds — teed it up in the Class 5A quarterfinals Friday night, someone’s magical season was going to continue.
One reached the quarterfinals by recording a safety in the final two minutes of the second round. The other advanced on a missed chip shot field goal.
It might have been destiny for these two teams to reach this level of the playoffs, but that took a back seat once this game kicked off. From the outset, Haughton took control of the game on the way to a 34-14 win over the Skippers.
By the time Mandeville picked up a first down, the Buccaneers already had three … touchdowns. Haughton scored with little trouble on its first three possessions with quarterback Peyton Stovall either throwing or running for all three.
But down 20-0, the Skippers got off the deck with a 9-play, 80-yard drive to get on the board on a 7-yard run by Devon Tott.
The Skippers might have had a chance to cut into the lead even before halftime, but a fourth-down run from their own 20 with 1:02 to go didn’t get the first down. One play later, Stovall found Elijah Rochon for a 20-yard score and just like that, it was 27-7. Momentum, gone.
Or so it appeared.
Even though his first roll of the dice hadn’t worked, Mandeville coach Hutch Gonzales wasn’t done. The Skippers opened the second half with a successful onside kick, but it didn’t result in any points.
“We had to take some chances,” Gonzales said. “We were in a 20-point hole to start the game and we needed a spark. That’s a good football team. They came out like that and it’s tough to recover.”
Haughton coach Jason Brotherton knew not to count the Skippers out, even after his team jumped out to such a quick start.
“They are a good, tough, hard-nosed team. We talked all week about how we had a lot of advantages athletically, but they were always in the right spot and they don’t give up a lot of big plays. That’s a testament to their staff. Of course, anybody who is playing this time of year is doing a good job.”
Mandeville had another break with an interception by Noah Engolia on the first play of the fourth quarter, but couldn’t make that one pay off either.
Haughton ended that drive with a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Dylan Turner to make it 34-14. “That guy can’t catch at all,” Brotherton said with a smile. “And then I thought there was no way he’d score, but he did.”
By falling behind so early, Mandeville was forced to all but abandon the running game. Tott threw 21 of his 28 passes in the second half.
“They did a phenomenal job taking our running game away from us,” Gonzales said. “We tried to stay with it, but they were taking it away so we had to try to do what we could.”
Leading rusher Jack Henderson had only 44 yards on 11 carries.
Stovall was 12 of 19 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Keyshawn Davis had 131 yards on 21 carries for a balanced Haughton offense.
Haughton (11-2) will advance to the semifinals for the first time since 1990 (Class 4A). The Bucs will travel to Destrahan, a 20-17 winner over West Monroe.
“We’ve had some injuries and some things happened, but we talked about being able to write out legacy when the playoffs started,” Brotherton said. “We say that we are in the game to get to the game and we are excited about that.”
Yep, just one more game to get the The Game.
First Downs 13 15
Rushing Yards 25-72 32-186
Passing Yards 173 194
Passes (A-C-I) 28-19-2 19-12-1
Punt-Ave 3-37.0 2-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-56 7-62
Mandeville 0 7 7 0 — 14
Haughton 14 13 0 7 — 34
H – C.J. McWilliams 11 pass from Peyton Stovall (Carter Jensen kick)
H – Stovall 27 run (Jensen kick)
H – Stovall 1 run (run failed)
M – Devon Tott 7 run (Caden Costa kick)
H – Elijah Rochon 20 pass from Stovall (Jensen kick)
M – Will Sheppard 4 pass from Tott (Costa kick)
H – Dylan Turner 48 interception return (Jensen kick)
Mandeville Rushing – Jack Henderson 11-44, Tott 7-12, Landon Ibieta 7-16.
Haughton Rushing – Keyshawn Davis 21-131, Stovall 6-28, C.J. McWilliams 4-24, 27 1-13
Mandeville Passing – Tott 28-19-2-173-1
Haughton Passing – Stovall 19-12-1-194-2
Mandeville Receiving – Sheppard 6-30-1TD, Ibieta 4-50, Caden Costa 5-53, Henderson 2-26, Dereje Gaspard 2-4.
Haughton Receiving – McWilliams 4-55-1, Tristan Sweeney 4-42, Matthew Whitten 2-55, Rochon 2-42-1TD