Tigers get sloppy win in season-opener

DHS senior linebacker Michael Favorite, Jr. tackles the Assumption running back in the team’s 24-21 win Friday night at Floyd Boutte Memorial Stadium.

It is always said that defense wins games and Friday night it proved to be true for the Donaldsonville High Tigers football team. It outlasted the Assumption High Mustangs 24-21 in a bayou battle that began in the rain and ended mud sloppy.

DHS got its first real action as it did not play a Jamboree game in the previous week due to the opponent canceling due to lack of players on the roster.

Not having a Jamboree hurt us as far as our conditioning as it is very challenging to simulate a game situation in practice without getting anyone injured,” Guilbeaux said.

So it was no surprise the Tigers would come out sloppy against the Mustangs, but as the game progressed there were moments of promise for the young team.

This was our first test drive and when we can come out with a W, it’s always easier to make those corrections,” Guilbeaux said.

Nonetheless, the Tigers (1-0) got the win and first-year head coach Benny Guilbeaux begins his era victoriously.

The guys who are veterans stepped up obviously at the skill positions,” Guilbeaux said. “(Michael) Favorite, Jr. and Leondre James are two of our captains and played both sides of the ball and they made big plays at critical times.”

The Mustangs received the opening kick and DHS’ defense showed up early with an interception by freshman Deion Deal. But, the Tigers would hand it right back to AHS on its possession with a fumble.

However, the Tigers defense did not give in after the offense’s poor first possession. DHS forced Assumption to a quick three and out and the offense was able to take the field again.

On its second possession, the Tigers’ offense struggled to get plays in as they were flagged for delay of game penalty. Eventually the Tigers would punt and put the defense back on the field.

Yet again, the defense stood strong and intercepted another pass after the Mustangs attempted to convert on fourth down through the air. Another freshman, Aaron Julien came up with the pick.

The game was scoreless through the first quarter, but the Mustangs were the first to put points on the board with a quarterback keeper by junior Ty Domaingue.

The first score of the game for the Tigers came on a pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Brown to junior receiver Jaquel Gant. Later in the second quarter, Brown would connect with sophomore receiver Stephen Sullivan over the middle.

The Tigers led 12-7 at the half and the Mustangs couldn’t do much against the Tigers defense besides turn the ball over.

It was much of the same in the second half as the Tigers defense forced another interception, except this time returning it for six points by sophomore linebacker Ashton Jones.

The Tigers defense wasn’t done there though, junior defensive back Cardell Forcell wanted some action too as he intercepted a Domaingue pass late in the third quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, the game was 18-15 and the Mustangs’ defense stepped up. Brown threw an interception after Sullivan bobbled a catch and the momentum shifted.

We’re improving,” Guilbeaux said. “Tyler Brown took some lumps but he made some key completions and he matured a lot tonight.”

However the Tigers defense was relentless and kept AHS off the scoreboard. When Brown took pocket again, he knew what to do – get the ball to Gant. Gant delivered two big catches from Brown on the next possession, one of which was a touchdown that put the Tigers up 24-15.

Late in the game, DHS’ defense began to wear down and get flagged for penalties that ultimately cost it six points as the Mustangs were given about 45 yards of penalty yards that put them in the red zone and in scoring position. The Mustangs scored and brought the game to 24-21.

However, the Tigers had established a rushing game and it proved effective in the closing minutes of the game. Junior running back Tajh Gillard had been picking up key first downs throughout the game and in the closing minutes he didn’t mind carrying the load.

The dagger that sealed the win for the Tigers was senior receiver Leondre James’ spectacular run that was supposed to be a “kill-the-clock” play as Guilbeaux calls it.

James took a handoff and started out running right, but then turned back around and went left eventually breaking about a 40-yard run. The following play Brown was able to kneel and time expired.

Brown finished the game with 178 yards passing, three touchdowns, one interception. Gant finished with two receiving touchdowns, Sullivan with one and James finished with nearly 150 all-purpose yards.

As far as the late-game penalties the Tigers suffered, Guilbeaux said the discipline comes in the fact that “we have to get back in the flow of winning consistently.”

Not getting into a talking competition with the other players,” he said. “There is no reason to talk after the play, excessive celebration, I’m not into that. But, those are some of the things we’re working on in the maturing process of the kids.”

Mustangs head coach coach Tony Paine said his team was totally “inept” offensively.

We’re playing our hearts out but it’s just not enough,” Paine said. “[DHS is] extremely athletic. They have some guys who can go up and get the ball and create problems for us. We’re smaller in the secondary and younger it’s not an excuse, but they’re extremely athletic.”

Paine added: “It’s going to be a long year for us. We have a lot of work to do, and even as hard as we work I still think it’s going to be a long year.”

Guilbeaux added, “Dutchtown next week.”

The Tigers (1-0) travel to Dutchtown Friday night to take on the Griffins at 7 p.m.