THE POST-SIGNAL / Josh Dugar
Crowley High’s Chris Moore (2), Jeremiah Roy (3) and Kendall Harmon (68) bring down an Abbeville running back Thursday during the Gents’ 44-15 victory over the Wildcats.
Gents cruise past Wildcats in District 6-3A opener
On a night when the offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, it was Crowley High’s defense that took center stage.
That defense hit the Abbeville Wildcats for 11 plays that went for negative yardage and forced four turnovers, sparking the Gents to a 44-15 victory.
“The defense came up big tonight,” said CHS coach Jeptha Wall, whose team improved to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in District 6-3A play. “They really did a great job in the first half and in the third quarter and it set us up with good field position.”
In the first half, the Gents limited the host Wildcats to just four first downs and 81 yards of total offense.
That defense was once again led by senior standout Kendall Harmon, who had a number of tackles and a handful of quarterback hurries.
It was his play on special teams early in the first quarter, however, that gave the Gents their first points of the game.
After going three-and-out on their first offensive series, the Wildcats were forced to punt from their own 40-yard line.
Harmon broke free from two Wildcat blockers and batted the attempted punt to the ground. He then scooped up the loose pigskin and rambled 30 yards for a touchdown. Obadiah Butler tacked on the 2-point conversion run and just like that the Gents led 8-0 with 8:43 left in the opening frame.
“Big Dog (Harmon) had a blocked punt for a touchdown and he had another strip in there...he played well tonight,” said Wall of Harmon, who also logged a number of snaps on the offensive line as well. “He was all over the field.”
Abbeville attempted to go to the air on their next possession and Crowley’s Tyler Carrier picked off Jaidyn O’Brien’s pass, giving the Gents the ball back at the AHS 38-yard line.
From there it took just one play for the Gents to extend their lead.
Quarterback Marquis Garrett connected with Butler on a short pass and the senior running back did the rest, spliting a pair of defenders en route to a 38-yard touchdown. Butler then rushed in again for the two-point conversion to put the guests up 16-0 with 4:01 remaining in the quarter.
The Gents got another short field when they forced Abbeville to punt from near their own end zone.
Starting at the AHS 32, a 13-yard pass to Jonkeyvon Marks was sandwiched in between four runs by Rodney Goodley with the final rush resulting in a 3-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed but the Gents still took a commanding 22-0 advantage with just under five minutes remaining in the half.
The Wildcats defense made a stand later in the quarter and forced the Gents to punt from their own end zone. The snap on the punt was high and Abbeville recorded a safety to cut the lead to 22-2 just before the half.
Offensively, the Gents didn’t fair much better than the Wildcats in the first half. They logged just five first downs and 131 yards of total offense.
“I don’t think we blocked anybody tonight, on the perimeter, in the box, you name it,” said Wall. “They (Abbeville) blitzed a lot and we just didn’t handle it well.
“I told them at halftime, the last two days we have been (practicing) in the gym due to the weather and it looks like we’re still in the gym.”
The Gents came out of the half on fire and scored three times in the first six minutes of the third quarter.
After forcing Abbeville to punt on the opening possession of the second half, the Gents took over on another short field, starting at the AHS 38-yard line.
Chris Moore started the drive with a 20-yard burst and after a personal foul on the Wildcats, he capped the series with a 9-yard touchdown run. Jeremiah Marceaux split the uprights on the extra point and the Gents led 29-2 with just over a minute gone in the quarter.
On the first play of Abbeville’s next series, Eric Levine was stripped and the ball was recovered by Crowley’s Tyron Goodley at the AHS 15.
From there, it was all Moore. He hauled in a 6-yard pass after a run for a loss and then scored on a 10-yard run to push the lead to 35-2 after the extra point kick was blocked.
Things got worse for the Wildcats on their next possession.
After a big pass to Garrick Scott and a short run to the CHS 41, the Wildcats fumbled again and it was recovered by Crowley’s Josh Richard.
A 37-yard pass to Butler followed and one play later, Garrett ran a keeper 14 yards for the Gents’ final touchdown of the night. Marceaux’s extra point attempt failed and the Gents took a 41-2 cushion with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Gents shot themselves in the foot the rest of the way, which enabled the hosts to find the end zone twice in the fourth quarter.
Abbeville took over at their own 23-yard line to start the fourth quarter. During the drive, the Gents were flagged five times for a total of 46 yards.
Abbeville quarterback Brennan Shelvin capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to trim the lead to 41-9.
The Wildcats caught another break when they recovered an onside kick and turned it another score, this time on a 17-yard pass from Shelvin to Derrian Harrison to make it 41-15.
After trading possessions, the Gents sent the reserves in to run out the final four minutes and they did just that behind two nice runs by Jonkeyvon Marks and a big fourth-down conversion run by Austin Fuselier.
“You know, we kind of turned on the juice there to start the third quarter and then we just let off the gas,” said Wall. “That’s just lack of desire to finish off a game.
“Maybe we didn’t do a good job of preparing through the week with all the rain and stuff and I think it reflected on the field there.”
In addition to the Gents forcing four turnovers, they had two more negated by flags.
Jonteyvan Marks intercepted a pass and returned it for what looked to be a touchdown midway through the third quarter, but it was brought back when the Gents were flagged for roughing the passer.
Then in the fourth quarter, Carrier intercepted another pass, but that, too, was brought back on a controversial block in the back call.
The Gents were flagged 14 times for 126 yards on the night.
Overall, the Gents posted 273 yards of total offense and the Wildcats had 245.