Written by Kyle Valdez
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the playoffs, the Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams topped Zachary 21-14 to reach the Class 5A State Championship game. The Zachary Broncos were the two-time reigning Class 5A state champions, and Acadiana was the 1-seed and carried a perfect 13-0 record into the game. Since 2014, Zachary and Acadiana have squared off in the playoffs six times – with Zachary eliminating the Rams the past two years. Billy Dotson Stadium in Lafayette was packed to its capacity, holding thousands in attendance. Behind the electric, standing-room-only crowd, Acadiana’s defense stepped up all night to hold the high-powered Zachary offense to just 14 points.
Zachary’s QB Keilon Brown (Memphis commit) threw 10-21 for 119 yards and 1 TD pass, also rushing for 70 yards on 10 carries. Receiver Christopher Hilton (Top offers include LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Florida) caught 4 passes for 61 yards. Acadiana RB Dillan Monette (Army Commit) led the Acadiana offensive attack with 137 rushing yards and 1 TD run on 25 carries. However, it was the Acadiana defense that should be highly credited for the win.
Holding a high-powered Zachary team to just 14 points is no easy task. Acadiana CB Laterrance Welch, who broke up Keilon Brown’s final pass attempt to Christopher Hilton, talked about his tough assignment for the night, “Our defense played great all year, but we stepped up even more tonight. We tried clamping up even more. I’m just a sophomore, so I stepped up and guarded a four-star receiver.”
To begin the game, Acadiana went off for a 70-yard, 6-minute drive that was completed when Tyvin Zeno scored on a 14-yard TD run. After holding Zachary, Acadiana took over and completed yet another strong drive. The Wreckin’ Rams went 65 yards on 9 plays. After originally setting up for a field goal, one of Zachary’s players jumped off-sides, causing Acadiana to go for it on fourth down. The off-sides penalty proved to be crucial as Dillan Monette would go on to break multiple tackles en route to an 18-yard TD run – giving Acadiana a 14-0 lead with 11:52 left in the second quarter.
After multiple possession changes, Zachary finally got on the scoreboard after going 63 yards on just 4 plays. The 90-second possession began with a 27-yard Hilton reception to put the Broncos inside the Rams’ 25-yard line. After Keilon Brown ran for 10 yards, Rodrick Duhe Jr. scored the ball from 2 yards out with 57 seconds left in the half.
To kill the Bronco’s momentum entering the half, Acadiana had a response of their own. In just five plays, Acadiana marched 64 yards in 49 seconds. With 8 seconds left in the half, QB Keontae Williams hit Braven Broussard for a 33-yard TD reception. The Acadiana drive proved to be crucial as the second half consisted of a defensive battle.
In the third quarter, Zachary had multiple chances to capitalize on Acadiana’s mishaps. In back-to-back plays for Acadiana, they would fumble deep inside Zachary’s territory. After going three-and-out after Acadiana’s first fumble, the Broncos would take advantage the next time. Zachary would cut the lead in half after covering 80 yards in just 2:30 - Keilon Brown threw a 22-yard TD pass to Jayden Williams with 11:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Despite Zachary scoring off the second Acadiana fumble, the Rams still stood strong. RB Jeremiah “Lucky” Brooks discussed his team’s confidence and overcoming adversity in the second half, “In times like that, people start getting down on themselves. When you are a leader like Dillan, Tyvin, and me, we all just rally together and make sure everyone’s head is up - everybody does their assignments and takes care of what they have to do.”
With the score 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Acadiana had a final opportunity to put the game away with a score. Despite being on the Zachary 1-yard line, Acadiana would get shut down at the goal line and would turn the ball over on downs. Why did they not kick a field goal? The world may never know, but the coaching mishap would give Zachary a chance to tie the ball game with 2:40 left in the game from their own 1-yard line. The Broncos would get one first down, but Brown would later get sacked, and have the final pass of his high school career be knocked incomplete on fourth down.
Dillan Monette talked about the game and what it was like for the seniors playing their last home game of their high school career, “If you want to be a champion, you have to make championship plays. We approached this game thinking win, lose or draw, we’re going to go out there and ball... It was an amazing feeling. It all happens so fast and I didn’t really notice it until I actually lived through it. It’s a special feeling right now because the last time we were in the Dome was 2014. Now, we’re making history, we’re undefeated right now, and we’re trying to finish it off undefeated.”
Before Acadiana can claim a state championship and finish off their aspiring15-0 season, Destrehan awaits them on Poydras St. Destrehan is entering the state championship as winners of seven straight, including their insane 20-17 over #2 West Monroe. While Acadiana is still the massive favorites, the Rams must show up one more time if they want to claim a title.
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