WESTLAKE – D’Myrus Daniels and the Crowley High offense were at it again Friday night after a slow start - making big plays and ringing up five touchdowns. But in the end, it was an opportunistic defense that paved the way for yet another Gent victory.
Crowley’s defense scored two touchdowns and came up with a number of key stops in the second half of its pivotal District 4-AAA clash with Westlake, helping the 11th-ranked Gents to a wild 34-28 road victory.
That victory sets up a showdown this Friday night in Crowley against old rival and new district foe Eunice. At stake is no less than a share of the District 4-AAA championship. The Gents enter the game 7-1 overall. Eunice is 4-4. Both are 3-0 in league play with one game remaining after their showdown.
“Not to take away anything from our offense but our defense was really good tonight,” said Crowley High coach Tommy Tate following the victory. “Scoring twice on defense was really, really big. Coming away with a win like this on the road... I’m really proud of the coaches and the kids. This is a great win for our program and it gets us a step closer to playing for district championship.”
The first of the two big defensive plays in the second half was turned in by Troy Wilridge after one of many missed opportunities by the CHS offense.
The Gents, who scored just once in the first half after getting in the red zone three times, fumbled the ball away on the Westlake 10-yard line with just five seconds remaining in the third quarter.
With yet another squandered opportunity behind them, CHS linebacker Calivn Lewis hit running back Donald James on the next play, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Wilridge and returned five yards for a touchdown.
Then, following a 9-yard touchdown run by James that cut Crowley’s lead to 28-21, Darius Mills picked off a Justin Nordberg pass and returned it 40 yards for what proved to be the eventual game winner.
“Darius just does a great job of jumping a rout and he catches the ball and runs it in the end zone which was really big,” said Tate. “And before that, we have them (Westlake) backed up, we get a strip and scoop it and score. That was really two big plays.”
Crowley’s defense, which gave up 126 yards on the ground in the first half, limited Westlake to just 79 rushing yards in the final two quarters.
Not to be outdone, the Gents offense, led by Daniels, was just as impressive.
Daniels led all rushers on the night, racking up 182 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He scored both of his touchdowns in the third quarter, hitting pay dirt on runs of 32 and 60 yards, the latter an electrifying run that left Ram defenders shaking their heads.
Daniels was also effective through the air, completing six of his 14 pass attempts for 136 yards, including a 40-yard scoring strike to Donavon Morris.
“D’Myrus wants the ball,” said Tate. “He played well tonight. He ran the football well. We thought he threw the ball well at times but we have to improve, no doubt about it.”
After falling behind 7-0 early in the second quarter, Daniels rallied the Gents following a 34-yard kickoff return by Wilridge. Tonori Boutte picked up 11 yards on the first play before Daniels connected with Morris on a 40-yard strike over the middle to tie the game.
The Gents took their first lead of the game on the opening drive of the third quarter when Daniels broke loose on a 32-yard touchdown run.
“We had two (scoring) opportunities that we let get away from us in the first half and that almost came back to bite us,” said Tate. “But to our credit, we came out and scored first in the second half and that was big. We got on the board first and that put them in the catchup mode.”
Westlake rallied to tie the game courtesy of a 17-yard touchdown run by Tevin Lavergne midway through the third quarter before Daniels scored from 60 yards out on the Gents’ ensuing possession.
Westlake added its final score with just 13 seconds remaining in the game on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Nordberg to Trey Johnson. But the Rams’ hopes of a come-from-behind victory were thwarted on their attempt at an onside kick that was recovered by Crowley’s Cade Abshire.
Crowley rolled up 347 total yards of offense on the night and 13 first downs.
Daniels’ 182 yards led the ground attack while Boutte picked up just 10 yards on 13 totes. Nick Hoffpauir had two carries for eight yards and Wilridge picked up five yards on one carry.
Morris was the Gents’ leading receiver, hauling in three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Daigle had one key reception for 33 yards and Boutte had two catches for 16 yards.
“We had some big plays and some big drives on offense,” said Tate. “It was just a hard fought ballgame. Like a heavyweight fight, there were a lot of blows out there. It was just two teams playing their hearts out.”