Bastrop 44, McDonogh #35 16

Credit Bastrop's first playoff win since 2015 to the turnover belt. Feeding off the momentum of a pair of interceptions, Bastrop scored twice in the first 1:43 of the third quarter in an eventual 44-16 victory over John McDonogh #35 Friday night at Ram Stadium.

Bastrop (8-2), the No. 9 seed, travels to New Iberia to play No. 25 Westgate (7-4) Friday night in the second round.

McDonogh (5-6) went into intermission on a high note. Torey Chambers' 8-yard touchdown pass to Shateek Stewart with just seven seconds remaining in the half, followed by Jaden Henderson's 2-point pass to Jesse Lawrence, brought the Roneagles within 18-16.

Besides closing the deficit to two points, the visitors from New Orleans received the second half kickoff with a chance to take the lead.

The second half started with a bizarre play as Henderson lost his footing on the damp surface, fell flat on his back, sprang to his feet and returned the kickoff 31 yards to the McDonogh 36.

On the first play from scrimmage, Robert McDaniel intercepted a pass off the deflection of teammate Jabez Thompson for a 31-yard return to the 10.

"Robert McDaniel has made so many plays for us this year. So many plays," Bastrop coach Adrian Burnette said.

With the Rams facing second-and-11, Quaterius Hawkins hit Christian Smith in the right corner of the endzone for the touchdown. Robeyone Williams ran the 2-point conversion, extending the difference to 26-16 just 59 seconds into the second half.

McDonogh threw in Thompson's direction on its second snap of the half as well. Big mistake. This time the sophomore cornerback made the catch and hit the left sideline for a 58-yard pick-6. Bastrop's lead had grown to 32-16 with 10:17 still to play in the third quarter.

"Our defense has been rolling," Burnette said. "They have really been playing hard."

Steveland Williams' 15-yard run on 35s third play of the half moved the sticks to the minus-46, but the Roneagles retreated from there. T.J. Blanch stopped a first down run for a loss of three, the Roneagles were assessed a pair of five-yard penalties and a high snap resulted in a loss of 13 to bring up third-and-36 from the 20. Torey Chambers' 22-yard pass to Steveland Williams improved the visitors' field position before Claudell McDonald's 37-yard punt and a holding penalty on the return backed the Rams up to the 11.

Converting on third-and-eight, Hawkins distributed to Calvert Johnson for 12 yards and a first down at the 25.

Hawkins' long run on third-and-one was partially wiped out by a personal foul, but not before the Rams were awarded another first down at the plus-36.

Hawkins then spotted an unmarked Smith for an easy touchdown pass to the right side as Bastrop built a 38-16 bulge with 3:52 remaining in the third period.

McDonogh briefly crossed into Bastrop territory with a pair of first downs on its next possession, but a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties derailed the drive.

With the Roneagles sending out the punting unit on fourth-and-47, Bastrop started with a short field at the 37.

Two carries by Lawrence netted 17 yards and Cartavious Allen took a pitch for 11 yards to bring up first-and-goal from the 9.

Three plays later, Robeyone Williams, a starting linebacker, took it to the house from four yards out. Williams' first varsity touchdown put the Rams in command 44-16 with 8:29 to play.

Bastrop got off to a ragged start offensively.

Starting from their own 34 after receiving the opening kickoff, the Rams eventually punted from the 9 after a pair of errant snaps and a potential dropped touchdown pass.

Taking over from the Bastrop 43 after A.J. Fenceroy's 34-yard punt, the Eagles went right to work.

Eric Corkern's 13-yard pass on first down moved the chains to the 30.

Stops in the backfield by Jordan Doaty and Blanch led to a fourth-and-10, but Corkern's 12-yard pass to Shateek Stewart gave the Roneagles a fresh set of downs at the 18.

With McDonogh facing another fourth down at the 14, Chambers kept on the option for the game's first touchdown. Henderson ran the conversion to put the Roneagles in front 8-0 midway through the first frame.

Following a disappointing practice Monday, Burnette was concerned that the Rams were dwelling on a 17-12 loss to Neville in the regular season finale. However, Burnette attributed the slow start to the death of Bastrop High junior Quaterrius Brooks, who lost his life in an automobile accident Thursday night.

"Unfortunately, we had a situation where we lost one of our students in a car wreck Thursday night," Burnette said. "Quaterrius played with a lot of our guys in junior high at Delta. Of course, a lot of our guys knew him from school. I thought that had more affect on our players than the Neville game."

Tyrin Smith's 11-yard kickoff return enabled the Rams to start their next possession from their own 42.

A pass interference penalty and Fenceroy's 10-yard run helped the Rams pick up a pair of first downs, but the drive eventually stalled at the 31.

Four plays later, Robeyone Williams jumped all over a fake punt for a 4-yard loss at the the McDonogh 33.

Johnson's 8-yard catch and an illegal substitution infraction against the Roneagles brought up first down at the 20.

Hawkins took care of the remaining distance with runs of 13 and seven yards to the left side as Bastrop climbed within 8-6 early in the second period.

Back on offense, McDonogh managed a first down before Blanch's third down sack brought on the punting unit.

Christian Smith's 63-yard TD return was taken off the board as the Rams were flagged for targeting.

Starting from the 31 after the markoff, the Rams covered 69 yards on 10 plays with Kyrese Lawrence doing the honors from four yards away. The key play of the drive came on third-and-seven from the plus-41 when Johnson powered his way for 15 yards to the 26. Another 15-yard pass, this one to Allen, brought up first-and-goal from the 4. Kyrese Lawrence crashed into the endzone from there to give the Rams their first lead, 12-8.

Henderson's 29-yard return gave the Roneagles good field position at their own 47.

Three plays later, Semaj Joseph Hicks' 10-yard run generated a first down at the 12. Blanch dropped Chambers for a loss of two on first down and McDaniel knocked down a second down pass to set up third-and-12. Thompson then made his first pick of the evening, turning the ball over to the Rams at their own 20.

Bastrop was back on the board just two plays later as Kyrese Lawrence blasted 70 yards up the middle to give the Rams an 18-8 lead with 1:26 to play in the half.

"Kyrese's touchdown run was huge," Burnette said. "Offensively, it took us a little while to get straight. The first drive made it kind of tough on us."

Notes: Only the coaching staffs took part in the postgame handshake. With things getting chippy in the fourth quarter, Burnette sent his team to the locker room immediately after the game. ... Former Delta and Bastrop standout Rodriguez Moore attended the game. Moore, a running back, went on to play for East Mississippi Community College and the University of Cincinnati. ... Westgate earned the right to host Bastrop by virtue of a decisive 56-35 victory over No. 8 Plaquemine.