Tigers holds on to claim first playoff win in three years

Kyle Riviere
James Gipson came up with a big touchdown catch in the first half of the Tigers' 35-29 win over Union Parish. Photo by Chuck Montero.

It was a special night for Donaldsonville and second-year head coach Brian Richardson on Friday as they hosted 17th-seeded Union Parish in first-round playoff action.

The Tigers surged out to a 21-7 lead, before Union Parish rallied. In the end, Donaldsonville was able to hold on and claim a 35-29 victory. It was their first postseason win since 2014, and it was their first playoff victory under Richardson.

The Tigers came into the postseason fresh off of a great turnaround year.

In Richardson’s first season as the head coach, Donaldsonville was forced to fight through a plague of injuries to starters throughout the year. As a result, they went just 4-6 and were dropped from the first round of the playoffs.

But this year, the Tigers were able to stay relatively healthy, and Coach Richardson said that their senior leadership was instrumental in their success.

Donaldsonville has double-digit seniors on this year’s squad, and they helped lead the Tigers to a fantastic 7-3 finish to the regular season. This great record allowed them to earn the No. 16 seed for the playoffs and a first-round home game.

In their first-round contest against Union Parish, the Tigers took the early lead.

On their opening possession, they were faced with a fourth-and-two in Union Parish territory, but Jaylin Williams hit James Gipson for a long score to take a 7-0 advantage.

Union Parish answered with great special teams.

They returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tiger 48, and then eventually scored on a fake punt to tie the game.

Later, Williams came up with a deep completion to Ladarius Jackson that put them in Union Parish territory. They then hooked up again for a score to put them back ahead, 13-7, heading into the second quarter.

The Tiger defense then began to make plays.

The Farmers drove inside the Donaldsonville 10-yard line, but the Tigers stood tall and forced them to turn the ball over on downs.

They later forced a fumble that Terrell Brown recovered for a touchdown. A successful 2-point try put them ahead, 21-7.

Union Parish scored right before the half to cut the Tiger lead to 21-14 at the break.

A big kickoff return by Christian Bell helped put Donaldsonville on top, 27-14, to start the third quarter, but the Farmers drove right downfield for a score to get within 27-21.

Union Parish later drove into Donaldsonvillle territory, but Devante LeBlanc came up with a big interception for the Tigers.

Unfortunately for Donaldsonville, they went three and out, and when they were forced to punt from inside their own end zone, the snap went over Jackson’s head, awarding the Farmers with a safety.

Down 27-23 early in the fourth quarter, Union Parish again drove inside the Tiger 10, but once again, the Donaldsonville defense made a huge stand and turned them over on downs.

They didn’t let it get them down, though.

After causing a Tiger fumble in the red zone, quarterback Trent Ginn broke loose on a long touchdown run to give Union Parish their first lead at 29-27 with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

Bell had a big return on the ensuing kickoff, setting the Tigers up in Union Parish territory.

They were faced with a big fourth down, but Williams scrambled for the first.

Not long after the conversion, Williams connected with Jackson for a long score to put them ahead, 35-29, with just under three minutes on the clock.

Union Parish quickly moved downfield, converting two fourth downs along the way, but Bell came up with a huge game-sealing interception in the end zone.

The thrilling victory pushed the Tigers into the next round of the playoffs, but they have a tremendous challenge awaiting them.

They must now hit the road to face top-seeded and undefeated Sterlington. They are coming off of a 63-30 beatdown of Baker in the opening round.