“Did I expect this? No. Did I think we could be in the game in the fourth quarter? Yes,” said Byler, soaking wet with Gatorade after his team’s emotional victory that has them at 2-0, 1-0 with last year’s district champs in the rearview mirror. “We had nothing to lose ... Our coaches worked hard this week. We just felt we had a plan. I’m very, very proud of our kids.”
As for Patterson, PHS coach Tommy Minton said his squad is “playing like an underachieving team.”
“They played harder than we did and made less mistakes,’ he said. “We have some soul searching to do as a team because we are playing like an underachieving team.”
The ‘Jacks started backup quarterback Spencer Landry Friday in lieu of regular signal caller Denzel Johnson.
Minton didn’t say much about the change in quarterback play.
“He played well,” Minton said of Landry, who in the first half, completed 10 for 18 passes for 179 yards and one interception. “It was a coaches decision, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Landry also led the ‘Jacks’ ground game with six rushes for 30 yards.
Things started off well for Landry and the ‘Jacks as Patterson picked up three first downs and move the ball 65 yards from its own 20-yard line. However, a PHS fumble, recovered by NV’s Colin Laird, thwarted the drive and gave the Pats the ball on their own 18-yard line with no damage done.
NV quarterback Joe Duhon hit freshman receiver Dade Dieterich on a 35-yard strike on first down to give the Patriots some breathing room. Then, using some trickery, Duhon received a pass from second-string quarterback Drake Morvant in the middle of the field. Duhon then took the ball in for a 48-yard touchdown.
The Lumberjacks answered on the ensuing possession with a Deontay Jones 1-yard run. However, the ‘Jacks failed to convert the PAT.
After a nice Christian Fauntleroy return of the Patterson kickoff, North Vermilion had it first and 10 on its own 39-yard line. After notching a first down on a pass to Dieterich, Duhon, on a quarterback keeper, broke tackles at the line on his way to a 45 yard run and a 14-6 North Vermilion lead.
The score remained the same until halftime, but in the second half, North Vermilion continued its scoring onslaught.
With the ball at the NV 9 to start the third quarter, Duhon laced a throw up the middle to Riley Maturin, which Maturin caught one handed over a defender for a 51-yard pickup. Four plays later, Duhon punched it in from the five for a 21-6 North Vermilion lead.
With time waning in the third quarter, regular running back Trey Broussard, relegated to just his kicking duties, slammed home a 47-yard field goal to put NV up 24-6.
Another Duhon rushing touchdown, on fourth and goal, gave the Patriots their final points.
Patterson finally got on the board for its final touchdown at the 3:45 mark when Deondre Skinner hauled in a 26-yard pass from Denzel Johnson. Johnson’s two-point conversion was good for the final.
Johnson, who recorded all of his passing stats in the second half, completed seven of 13 passes for 84 yards and a score during the contest.
Skinner finished with five catches for 83 yards and a score, while Daylon Charlot also had a productive night with seven catches for 111 yards.
Duhon finished with 142 yards rushing on just 13 carries (10.9 average). He was 5-for-10 passing for 138 yards.
Byler said the team’s success came down to a good game plan and great execution.
“I think our linemen did a great job as well,” he said. “I mean, we punted one time. We just said, ‘Guys, trust the game plan.’ They did that.”
North Vermilion held the Lumberjacks to less than 100 yards rushing as a team until Patterson’s final scoring drive.
“I’m the coach, so I take responsibility for the way we are playing,” Minton said. “I have to find the right buttons to push.”
Patterson will host Berwick Friday at 7 p.m. in another District 9-3A matchup, while North Vermilion also will continue District 9-3A play Friday when they travel to face Franklin.
Reporting by Abbeville Meridional Sports Correspondent William McDaniel as well as Daily Review sports Reporter Corwin Murray.