It’s never wise to put too much stock into a high school football jamboree.
But after what transpired at Eagles Stadium on Friday night, it might not be a bad idea for prep fans in northeast Louisiana to circle week 6 on their calendars.
Grant Fitzhugh and Josh Pennebaker combined for three rushing touchdowns in the second half that helped Ouachita Christian keep pace with Sterlington and pick up a 35-28 win.
Fitzhugh — OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh’s son and now starting quarterback — raced down the sideline and gave the Eagles the lead with 29 seconds to play.
“Both offenses were successful tonight and it was just a slug match back-and-forth the entire time,” Steven Fitzhugh said. “I was proud of our offensive line for opening up some running lanes and our skill guys just kept plugging.”
Sterlington didn’t waste any time finding the end zone on its first drive. DeVante Douglas took a pitch from quarterback Devon Murphy on third-and-3 and didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line 66 yards later.
Instead of the big-play method, OCS opted for the methodical approach on its first offensive possession. Grant Fitzhugh stayed cool in the pocket in his first significant amount of playing time running the offense and helped the Eagles convert three fourth-downs on the drive.
OCS rode senior running back Josh Pennebaker the rest of the way. After getting past Sterlington defensive end Spencer Davis to the Panther 13-yard line, Pennebaker carried the ball four-straight times and tied the score up at 7.
The Eagle offense converted three fourth-down situations and went 75 yards on 20 total plays.
OCS defensive lineman Jackson Head started the ensuing drive by planting Murphy for a sack, but Sterlington’s senior passer regrouped and fired two passes to sophomore wide receiver Carson Clowers for a first down. Murphy struck again three plays later and connected with senior Jaylan King on a 35-yard touchdown.
King — an equal opportunity playmaker for Sterlington — intercepted a Fitzhugh pass to end the first half of play.
OCS hit Sterlington with back-to-back touchdown drives on its opening possessions of the second half to take its first lead. Wide receiver John Ivan Morris turned a 53-yard completion from Fitzhugh into six and Pennebaker ran for his first touchdown of the second half on the next possession after Nick Sumrall recovered a Sterlington fumble.
Murphy ran for two touchdowns in the second half out of the Panther’s I-formation offense, but the Sterlington defense surrendered big play after big play as the jamboree wore on.
“I’ve said all along we’ve got a chance to be pretty good on offense but we’ve got a lot of things to improve on defensively when we get back to work Sunday,” Sterlington head coach Jason Thompson said. “Our offense kept us in it tonight but we just didn’t do enough on the other side of the ball to win it.”
The News-Star, Adam Hunsucker