ST. MARTINVILLE — In a heavyweight bout featuring longtime parish rivals, both Breaux Bridge and St. Martinville delivered more than its share of staggering punches that certainly took its toll on its opponent.
But in the end, it was Demarkus Daughdrill who landed two big haymakers on special teams and on defense that ultimately knocked out the St. Martinville Tigers en route to leading Breaux Bridge to a 21-14 victory in the District 5-4A opener Friday.
“Right now, this is the biggest win of the season,” Daughdrill said. “I’m not surprised at all at how close the game was because we knew they were a good team. Coach told us all week that it would take four quarters to beat them and it did. St. Martinville is our biggest rival, so we knew that we had to beat them.”
With St. Martinville punting from its own 26 clinging to a 14-13 lead with 2:40 remaining in the game, Daughdrill fielded the punt at the Breaux Bridge 42 and came within a step of going out of bounds. Daughdrill gave up ground by running backwards to about the 35-yard line, broke a tackle and proceeded to run up the right side of the field untouched for a 58-yard touchdown that gave Breaux Bridge a 19-14 lead. Lane Landry then connected with Lamont Abraham for the two-point conversion that extended Breaux Bridge’s lead to 21-14 with 2:26 remaining in the game.
“Our coaches and my teammates told me that I had to make a play,” Daughdrill said. “When I caught the football all I was thinking about was scoring. I wanted to do everything I could to get into the end zone.”
The touchdown was Daughdrill’s third of the game as he also scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half that led to Breaux Bridge taking a 13-6 lead at halftime. He finished the game with 53 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Derrick Williams contributed with 79 yards on 12 carries.
With still more than two minutes remaining in the game and equipped with a couple of timeouts, St. Martinville were still holding out hope they could force overtime with one final drive.
One the second play of the ensuing drive, Daughdrill delivered another blow to St. Martinville’s chances of upsetting Breaux Bridge by intercepting Brylin Porter’s pass at BBHS’ 28 with 2:26 left in the game.
“Demarkus is a very unselfish player, who is willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful,” Tigers head coach Paul Broussard said. “We put him on defense when we need, but we also use him at running back, kick return and punt return. He is a guy that can make plays and I’m really proud of him.”
While Breaux Bridge will be celebrating an exhilarating victory, St. Martinville will be left breaking down how they allowed a winnable game to slip through their fingertips.
Not only did St. Martinville not bring down Daughdrill on the punt return despite having him field the football along the sidelines, but they wasted a golden opportunity to score with 8:00 to go in the second quarter down 13-6.
St. Martinville benefited from an interception by DeQuincy Narcisse, who returned the football 29 yards to Breaux Bridge’s 4. But two plays later, St. Martinville fumbled the football and it was recovered by Breaux Bridge at its own 8.
St. Martinville were led offensively by fullback Malik Anthony, who rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries, Jamiah Nelson (12-52) and Lorenzo Chaisson. Chaisson rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
“We played hard and very well,” Broussard said. “I’m really proud of our defense, because St. Martinville is a good team and to hold them to only 14 points is outstanding. This is a big victory for us and I knew coming in that playing in St. Martinville is never easy. It was a hard fought game, but we pulled it out by playing hard for 48 minutes.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.