For area high school football fans, Friday night’s game between Captain Shreve and Byrd may have been the most important rivalry game in Shreveport this season.
On the field at Lee Hedges Stadium, however, it was never close.
Byrd (6-2, 3-1) took control early with a defensive touchdown and two long scoring runs from quarterback J.D. Lorence and beat Shreve 37-14.
Shreve (4-5, 1-3) received the opening kickoff, but a Byrd interception return for a touchdown put the Yellow Jackets up 7-0 just 2:37 into the game.
“That put us back on our heels,” Shreve coach Richard Lary said. “And that created a feeding frenzy for them right away.”
Byrd linebacker Krishun Cash read a screen play and stepped in front of the Shreve running back to pick off the pass. Then he avoided several tacklers on a 15-yard touchdown return.
“That play gave us a spark right away,” Byrd coach Mike Suggs said. “Getting a defensive score on the first series was huge for us.”
Shreve went three-and-out on its next possession, which set up Lorence’s first touchdown. He faked a handoff to his fullback, tucked the ball and ran through an open gap to the outside which led to a 64-yard rushing score.
“We were fired up,” Lorence said. “It just carried on to each drive, and we just jumped on them.”
Byrd added a field goal at the end of the first quarter, a result of another Shreve turnover.
“We blinked our eyes for a second and it was 17-0,” Lary said. “We just never did get out of that. A lot of that credit goes to them. They can out playing fast and we didn’t.”
Byrd defense held Shreve on three plays again, which gave Lorence another opportunity for a big play, a 53-yard touchdown run to put his team up 24-0.
“J.D. has great ability, and he made good reads tonight,” Suggs said. “He got the ball on the edge and was able to get it in the end zone.”
Byrd reached a 30-0 lead after Xavier Long ran for a 1-yard score on a fourth-and-goal play with 6 minutes left in the first half.
“There was a lot of emotion on both sides, so to get a quick start like we did was very important to us,” Suggs said. “It’s a big rivalry and both teams had a lot at stake. We knew we had to play well early.”
Shreve’s two touchdowns game after Byrd turnovers. The first was a result of a fumbled punt that gave the Gators the ball on Byrd’s 7-yard line.
Shreve converted the score on a 3-yard, fourth-down pass from Marvin Davis to Santos Ramirez to end the second quarter.
But Byrd put the game away with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 4:34 off the clock to start the third quarter. Dominic Haggerty finished it off with a 3-yard scoring run on a toss sweep to the right corner of the end zone.
The play set off a celebration on the visiting side, where Byrd’s student section taunted its rival with a banner complete with the Twitter hashtag “#byrdgusher.”
“Playing in an atmosphere like this is always fun,” said Lorence, a senior. “Big crowd, a lot of cheering. You have the hive and the swamp. It was a lot of fun.”
Shreve scored its second touchdown minutes later after a Byrd fumble gave the Gators the ball on the Yellow Jackets 12. Weylin Goodie ran into the end zone from 1 yard out, his lone carry of the night.
The win should guarantee Byrd a spot in the playoffs. Now, a Yellow Jackets win next week against District 1-5A leader Airline (8-1, 4-0) will create a tie atop the standings.
“The momentum carries on to next Monday,” Lorence said. “We will have a good week of practice, and I think we will be ready for Airline.”
Shreve will finish up with Parkway (8-1, 3-1).
“We played hard in the second half and had a lot of young kids out there on the field,” Lary said. “We have a lot of kids who will be good football players for us. It was a bad loss, but there are a lot of good things in the future for us for sure.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.