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|Rebels blister Barbe to earn shot at Class 5A state title|
The No.1-ranked West Monroe Rebels ran over No.4 Barbe en route to a 47-12 victory in the semi-finals of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 5A football playoffs Friday night.
Playing before a sell-out crowd at Rebel Stadium, West Monroe rushed for 323 yards and passed for 89 more to hand the Barbe Buccaneers (12-1) their first defeat of the season.
"It is great to see the look on these kids faces," said West Monroe head coach Don Shows. "I said if we held them to 14 points, we could win the ballgame and we did even better than that."
West Monroe began the game by blitzing the Bucs on their first possession only to see Barbe quarterback Eric Cutrera complete his first four pass attempts to move Barbe near mid-field early in the contest.
Moments later, West Monroe got the best of the Barbe offense as the Rebels did most of the night. Defensive end Jordan Allen stripped the ball from the hands of Cutrera and recovered the ball in Barbe territory.
The miscue proved fatal for Barbe as West Monroe quickly turned the fumble into points after running back Ladarius Abrams raced to the end zone from 17 yards out.
West Monroe missed the first of two PAT kicks and lead 6-0. On the ensuing possession, Barbe marched down field and scored its first touchdown on a 7-yard jaunt by Cutrera.
Cutrera ran for 27 yards and a touchdown as well as completed 19-of-29 passes for 199 yards in the contest. Cutrera played most of the second half on what appeared to be a severely sprained ankle.
West Monroe took the lead for good early in the second quarter, which broke the 6-6 tie that ended the first period of play.
Quarterback D.J. Banks kept the ball on the option and raced 49 yards untouched for a score to begin the second quarter. Rebel kicker Cody Hollis booted the PAT kick to put West Monroe ahead, 13-6.
The two squads went on a defensive odyssey the rest of the second quarter with neither team gaining much offensive momentum. The middle of the Barbe defense clamped down on West Monroe's rushing attack and limited the run for West Monroe after the Banks touchdown.
West Monroe continued to bring the blitz and got multiple sacks on the Barbe quarterback. An interception by Jonas Tyson also halted a Barbe drive as West Monroe forced three turnovers in the game.
"Defensively we gave up some passes on that first drive and then settled in," Shows said. "I cannot say enough about the coaches I have with me; they do an outstanding job getting our team ready to play."
West Monroe came out firing in the third quarter with a 36-yard touchdown run on a reverse to Paul Turnver. The backup quarterback raced from the slot position into the end zone to give West Monroe (13-0) a 20-6 lead.
Abrams added his second rushing touchdown of the game on the next West Monroe possession as the game began to get out-of-reach for Barbe. Abrams finished the game with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Banks found tight end Taylor Underwood following another Barbe fumble for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Banks ran for 127 yards and passed for 89 on 5-of-7 pass attempts. Banks totaled three scores rushing and one through the air.
Barbe running back E.J. Celestie found wide receiver Kevin Berand on a 35-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter on the final Barbe score.
Banks added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter from 13 yards and 1 yard away, respectively, to end the scoring for the Rebels.
The victory returns West Monroe to the Superdome for the first time since 2004. This will be the second time since 1993 the Rebels will face Destrehan High School for the Class 5A championship.
West Monroe won their first title in football over the Wildcats, 21-14, to end the 1993 season.