From No. 30 seed St. Martinville pulling off a shocker over No. 3 Lutcher in Class 4A to No. 29 Plain Dealing knocking off No. 4 Mangham in Class 1A, higher seeds fell like flies in the first round.
Unfortunately for Rayne, the trend continued in the regional round.
East Feliciana, the No. 22 seed in Class 3A, imposed its will on the Wolves, scoring 33 points in the first half en route to a stunning 39-10 victory that eliminated Rayne from the playoffs.
“East Feliciana is a good football team; they really are,” said RHS coach Curt Ware, whose team finished the season with an overall mark of 9-3. “We had a few chances here and there, but, still, it was a struggle to move the ball at all. And then, we couldn’t stop them.
“To be honest with you, I think they are the better football team. They really are.”
Blue-chip prospect Kendell Beckwith lived up to his pregame billing with a spectacular all-around game that had fans buzzing.
The senior standout, considered by most to be the top prep prospect in the state, accounted for 160 yards of offense. He rushed three times for 30 yards, completed two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown and hauled in a 70-yard pass.
Defensively, despite nearly every play going opposite of his end position, Beckwith recorded 3.5 tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss.
As impressive as he was, however, he wasn’t the only playing causing problems for the Wolves.
Starting quarterback Corey Hawkins completed nine of his 13 pass attempts for 250 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 38 yards and a score in which he hurdled a defender at the goal line.
Aside from Hawkins’ 70-yard scoring strike to Beckwith, he also hit Kameron McKnight three times for 113 yards and two scores and Danny Johnson hauled in four passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
“They were really on offensively tonight,” said Ware of the Tigers and their 433 total yards of offense. “They threw the ball well. He (Hawkins) was on and there weren’t many balls that weren’t right there.
“And they have a lot of really good athletes. You talk about Beckwith, and he is a great athlete, but they have a lot of great players. McKnight is as good as Beckwith and Johnson is a great player.”
From the start, it was evident the Tigers’ athleticism was going to take over.
East Feliciana took over on their own 20-yard line to start the game and mounted a six-play drive that was capped by a 43-yard touchdown pass from Hawkins to Johnson.
Rayne went three-and-out on its first series and was forced to punt, giving Hawkins and the Tigers the ball back at their own 36.
This time, Hawkins needed just one play as he went to the air again, this time hitting McKnight on a 64-yard touchdown strike to give the Tigers a 13-0 advantage with 7:40 remaining in the opening frame.
The Wolves attempted to answer with an 11-play drive behind an 18-yard scamper from quarterback Clarence Leger. However, the drive stalled at the Tigers’ 28 where Ty Delahoussaye’s 45-yard field goal attempt fell just short.
The Tigers then wasted little time in capitalizing.
After a 13-yard loss by Timothy Scott, Hawkins got the Tigers out of the hole and deep into RHS territory with a 70-yard pass to Beckwith. One play later, Hawkins hit Joshua Davis from 15 yards out for another touchdown.
Suddenly, it was 19-0.
After a 13-play drive, Rayne finally got on the board midway through the second quarter when Delahoussaye spit the uprights from 27 yards out to cut the lead to 19-3.
The Wolves had a chance to seize the momentum shortly after the kick when Hawkins’ pass was nearly intercepted by Quinn Guidry.
“We had a chance right there,” said Ware of the near interception. “There was no one in front of him (Guidry). If we score right there and make it 19-10, you never know.”
The missed opportunity proved costly.
On the very next play, McKnight broke a 26-yard run and Beckwith followed that up with a 25-yard scamper to set the Tigers up at the RHS 36. Three plays later, Hawkins broke containment, hit the sideline and took to the air from the two-yard line, leaping over a Rayne defender for an 11-yard touchdown run.
And the Tigers weren’t done.
With Beckwith under center on their next possession, the Tigers struck again. Beckwith showed off his arm strength with a 31-yard scoring strike to Johnson to give the Tigers a 33-3 advantage heading into the break.
Things went from bad to worse for the Wolves to start the second half.
The Wolves went 3-and-out on the opening drive of the third quarter and Delahoussaye’s punt was blocked by Glenn Simms, giving the Tigers’ the ball at the RHS 27.
From there, the Tigers ran seven plays, the last being a 23-yard touchdown strike from Hawkins to McKnight.
“We had a little bit of a bad snap,” said Ware of the blocked punt. “But really, we needed to get a drive right there anyway, not a three-and-out.”
Rayne’s defensive highlight of the night occurred late in the third quarter when Grant Menard hit Scott, causing a fumble that was recovered by Brice Meche, setting the Wolves up near midfield.
Short runs by Leger, Jalen Williams and Trent Duhon was followed by a 16-yard burst by Javon Cormier to get the Wolves deep into Tiger territory. One play later, Williams scored from 10 yards out.
“We had a few decent drives but...”said Ware. “I don’t think there was anything we could have done necessarily different. Now, we could have done some things better, obviously.
“We needed to control the football and keep it away from them and we weren’t able to do it. And then we really struggled stopping them throwing the ball. We did alright against the run.”
The Wolves racked up 260 yards of offense on the night.
Williams led the ground attack with 15 carries for 55 yards and Cormier had four carries for 30 yards. Duhon added 22 yards on nine carries while R.J. Buchanan and Leger added 17 yards each on three and nine carries, respectively.
Leger also completed five of his 11 pass attempts for 119 yards. He hit Dannie Harmon three times for 88 yards and Williams twice for 33.
“We had a great year,” said Ware. “Nine and 3 is nothing to be ashamed of. If someone tells you before the season that you’re going to go 9-3, you’re going to take it, I promise you that.”