By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
LONG BEACH —
Blue Devil running back Garret Duplechain gained 120 yards on six carries, one for a 71-yard touchdown jaunt, to pace the Pearl River Central Blue Devils to a 64-21 win over the hapless Long Beach Bearcats in Lumpkin Stadium Friday night.
It was a Region 4-5A clash and left PRC 6-1 overall and 3-1 in district competition. The Bearcats remained winless at 0-7. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 4 in the state as they head into a crucial district clash with the Moss Point Tigers on Friday.
The Bearcats were never really in the game. Once, they got close in the remaining few minutes of the first period, 13-7, but the Blue Devils shifted into second gear and never looked back.
By half-time, the Blue Devils took a 41-14 lead into the break. The Devils reeled off three TDs in the first quarter and three in the second. The Devils then tacked on one in the third and two TDs and a safety in the fourth period to round out the scoring.
Devil QB Dylan Spiers hit two of three passes for 56 yards, both connections going for touchdowns: a 12 yard toss to receiver Terek Whitehead deep in the end zone and a connection with wide receiver Daniel Rosine, covering 44 yards.
Running back Brandon Padgett zipped up the middle of the field on a kickoff return for 86 yards, and scored another touchdown on a six-yard run with a minute left in play.
Senior Blue Devil running back Desmond Michel scored two touchdowns and ran for 56 yards in 10 carries. The Blue Devils piled up total yardage, passing and rushing, of 443 yards.
Fullback Steven Kubicki powered his way to 94 yards on 10 carries and scored one touchdown.
Said Devil head coach Eric Collins in post-game comments to the press: “We talk to our kids about totally focusing on the game at-hand, the game we’ve got to play tonight, concentrating only on that game, and I think we did that tonight.”
He added, “The kids came out and played with a focus that we needed, and I was proud of them for that.”
Here’s how the scoring transpired:
The Devil’s scored first on a 48-yard, six play drive, capped by a five-yard run by Michel for the touchdown two minutes into the game. The Devils recovered an on-side opening kickoff by the Bearcats on the Bearcat 48 to set up the drive. Devil kicker Javon Netto missed the first PAT but hit on all the rest.
Next with 5:52 left in the first period, Michel got his second TD on a one-yard plunge. That drive was almost identical to the previous one, 48-yards on five plays.
With 1:26 left in first-period action, Bearcat fullback Bryan Hayes scored on a one-yard plunge, kicker Payton Holder’s PAT was good and the Bearcats got as close as they would get all night to the Devils, 13-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Devils set up at their own 29 and on the first play of the series Duplechain slid off the left end and raced 71 yards for a touchdown with only 1:02 left in the first period. It was 20-7, Devils.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Spiers hit Whitehead for a 12-yard connection deep in the end zone, Bearcat QB Thad Miller scored on a one-yard plunge, but next Padgett sprung his 86-yard kickoff return, and with about one minute left in the first half, Spiers hit Rosine on a 44-yard pass play for a touchdown, making it 41-14 at the half-time break.
About half-way through the third period, Kubicki scored on a 12-yard power run, two minutes into the fourth period wingback Blake Matta scored on a one-yard plunge, and with about one minute left in the game, Padgett ran six yards to paydirt. It was Padgett’s second TD, his other one being the 86-yard dash.
And with only 39 seconds left, the Devil defense forced a fumble on the kickoff that was booted into the end zone where a Bearcat pounced on the ball, but it was a safety, giving the Devils their final two points.
The Bearcats final score came on a 72-yard dash by Hunter Bachuss, who scooped up a Devil fumble, broke into the open and raced for paydirt with 4:58 left in the game.
Score by quarters: PRC 20-21-7-16=64; LB 7-7-0-7=21.