Byrd earns spot in Superdome


Head coach Mike Suggs was speechless, sophomore Tyler Johnson was on the turf in tears and quarterback Tyler Howard was simply dumbfounded.

The drought is over.

Carrying the burden of more than 50 years of football frustration for Shreveport’s largest high school, the Byrd Yellow Jackets will again, finally, play for a state championship.

After Byrd’s star, running back Louis Mills, was forced to exit with an injury late in the third quarter, sophomore teammate Treyveon Allen came to the rescue.

Allen gave the Jackets the lead with a 4-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Byrd’s defense shut down Holy Cross on its final three possessions to secure a 14-10 victory in a Select Division I semifinal matchup at historic Tad Gormley Stadium in the shadows of the bright lights of the Big Easy.

Byrd will be the first Shreveport-Bossier City public school to ever play for a state title in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when it faces the winner of Rummel and St. Augustine for the Division I crown Dec. 12.

“What?” Howard said when he learned that nugget. “That’s amazing. I did not know that. That is an awesome feeling. Oh my gosh.”

When the final seconds finally ticked away, a time that took “forever” to Allen, Byrd Nation emptied from the stands to celebrate with the team that led them to a state title game for the first time since 1962.

“This means everything,” sophomore Tyler Johnson said. “We’ve been wanting this so bad; since Nov. 17 (2012) when we got kicked out of the playoffs.”

All three of the Tigers’ fourth quarter possessions entered Byrd territory. All three times, Byrd’s defense answered the bell.

The Yellow Jackets forced one punt, corralled an interception and dealt Holy Cross a four-and-out in the final quarter alone.

The key play may have been an interception by senior defensive back Kendry Sneed, who stepped in front of a James Tabary pass at the Jackets’ 2-yard line with 5:33 remaining.

“It was a wonderful feeling,” Sneed said of his interception. “I can’t even explain it.”

But the Tigers’ defense nearly matched the efforts of their opponent and forced Byrd into an immediate punt.

Holy Cross began its final drive near midfield with 3:12 remaining and quickly marched to Byrd’s 36. However, three straight incompletions gave the ball back to Byrd with less than 2 minutes left.

The Jackets were able to run out the final seconds when Andrew Suggs drove a punt downfield.

“We’re going to celebrate this on the five-and-a-half hour ride home and then go back to work,” Suggs said.

Points were tough to come by Friday night and Byrd found that out early. The Yellow Jackets’ second possession of the game lasted 18 plays and took 8:38 off the clock. But when Byrd was stuck for a 7-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 3, the game remaining scoreless.

A 20-yard field goal from Holy Cross proved to be the only score of the first half. However, Byrd wasted no time following the break to take its first lead.

A 2-yard plunge by Mills helped the Jackets to a 7-3 advantage early in the third quarter. The lead was short-lived as Holy Cross responded with an 80-yard drive to take the lead.

The Jackets had an answer, too, although what would be the game-winning drive began with the exit of Mills (shoulder) following an 11-yard gain.

Seven plays later, Allen honored his mentor, reduced to a spectator with his arm in a sling, with the final score of the game.

“I tried to do it for Mills,” Allen said. “I know he’s a senior and I know how bad he wanted it. It felt so good to get in the end zone.”

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