Ville Platte High defensive back RJ Williams (11) reaches up to knock the ball away from Pine Prairie Panther wide receiver Chase Freeman (5) in Friday night’s 36-28 District 5-3A win for the Bulldogs. (Gazette photo by Yvette Jagneaux)
Second half shoot-out
PINE PRAIRIE -- In what could only be described as a wild second half, the Ville Platte Bulldogs intercepted a pass on the final un-timed down in the fourth quarter to preserve a 36-28 win over the Pine Prairie Panthers Friday night.
With the win, Ville Platte moves to 2-3 on the season and 2-1 in league play. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play Northwest High this Friday pending the Raiders’ comeback from COVID-19 restrictions.
The loss drops Pine Prairie to 0-7 on the year and 0-3 in District 5-3A play. The Panthers are scheduled to face Church Point this Friday in the last regular season game of the year.
After the game, Ville Platte head coach Jorie Randle not only praised his team for the win, but also recognized the effort of the Panthers.
“We made the adjustments at halftime that were able to put us over the top,” stated Randle. “A big difference in the game was the play of our seniors. They came ready and gave every effort to get us this win. I am excited an happy for our players to get this win.”
“Hats off to Coach Clark and his team,” Randle continued. “They had some issues this week and really could not practice. Regardless, they gave us all we could handle. They have a way better team than their record indicates.”
The first quarter started slow for both squads with one exception. On Ville Platte’s second possession of the night, senior running back Jaekwon Fontenot broke loose over the left side and out ran all Pine Prairie defenders for a 56 yard touchdown.
The two-point run failed, but the Bulldogs owned a 6-0 lead with 5:30 to go in the period.
After a Panther punt on the ensuing possession, Ville Platte drove the ball 41 yards down to the Pine Prairie 12-yard line. However, the Panther defense bowed up and forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on downs.
Pine Prairie put together one of their best drives of the night, moving down to the Ville Platte seven-yard line in 12 plays. Unfortunately, a bad exchange on the handoff allowed the Bulldogs to recover a Panther fumble at the nine-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Ville Platte lost the ball on a toss that was too far behind the Bulldog running back. Ville Platte’s Fontenot could not do anything but fall on the ball in the end zone resulting in a safety for the Panthers. So with 5:12 to go in the second quarter the scoreboard now read Ville Platte 6, Pine Prairie 2.
The Panthers were not finished with their scoring run. On the ensuing drive following the free kick from the Bulldogs, Pine Prairie needed only three plays to reach pay dirt for the first time in the game.
On third and 12 from the Ville Platte 42-yard line, quarterback Branson Fontenot found wide out Bryce Ardoin all alone for the touchdown strike. A botched snap on the extra point turned into a two-point pass from Chase Freeman to Josiah Ortis, giving the Panthers a 10-6 lead with 4:30 to go in the half.
The lead stayed that way, as neither team could move the ball the rest of the quarter.
The explosion of points in the second quarter carried over to the final two periods. Ville Platte took over the lead on their very first possession of the second half.
Starting at mid-field, the Bulldogs marched to the Panther one-yard line in nine plays. On fourth and goal from the one, quarterback Ernest Roberts hit R.J. Williams on a dump pass for the score. The two-point run by Roberts was good making it 14-10 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Ville Platte got the ball right back on a fumble by Pine Prairie at the Panther 47-yard line. Three plays later, Roberts hit William once again, this time on a 32 yard scoring strike. Fontenot tacked on the two-point run and the Bulldogs now led 22-10 with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Pine Prairie answered quickly when John Fontenot took the ensuing kick-off 75 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, however the score was now 22-16 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Ville Platte returned the favor on their next possession. Aided by three 15 yard Panther penalties, the Bulldogs moved down to the Pine Prairie eight-yard line. On first and goal, Roberts found Williams for the third time on a eight yard touchdown pass. Roberts added the two-point run, giving the Bulldogs a 30-16 lead with 48 seconds left in the quarter.
Like a fighter taking a solid punch, Pine Prairie got right back off the mat and scored on their next drive. A 66 yard pass from Fontenot to Dylan Bordelon with no time left in the quarter cut the Ville Platte lead down to eight, 30-22.
Pine Prairie picked up another score three and a half minutes into the fourth quarter when Elijah George sliced his way in from six yards out. A failed two- point pass made it a two point game, 30-28 with 8:33 left in the game.
Despite the body blow from the Panthers, Ville Platte answered with the what ended up to be the knock out punch. On their next possession, the Bulldogs scored on the third play of the drive, as Roberts found Williams for a 64 yard touchdown pass. The two-point try failed, but the lead was now 36-28.
Pine Prairie mounted on more drive starting from mid-field and 19 seconds showing on the clock. A 27 yard pass brought them down to the Ville Platte 23. Two plays later and with two seconds on the clock, Ville Platte was called for pass interference, giving the Panthers an un-timed down. However, the ball was intercepted at the goal line, giving the Bulldogs the win.
After the game, Pine Prairie head coach Richard Clark showed pride in his team’s effort.
“It is hard to be upset with their execution because we had really only one day of practice this week due to COVID-19 scares,” said Clark. “Their were some mental mistakes from us, but the players played their buts off. I am so proud of their effort tonight.