JOURNAL SPORTS STAFF
ROSEPINE – Many had its backs against the playoff wall Friday after Rosepine intercepted a Tackett Curtis pass with 10 minutes remaining and the Eagles clinging to a 7-0 lead.
But the Tigers didn’t panic.
All the previous playoff experience and winning paid off in the fourth quarter as Many’s defense held three times and the Tigers mustered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 14-7 quarterfinals win in the Division III Non-Select playoffs.
Many (11-0) trailed for the first time in the second half all season, but the Tigers secured their seventh straight trip to the semifinals with the comeback.
“Our experience in big games helped us pull through,” said Many coach Jess Curtis. “We know in the playoffs, it’s tough to win on the road. I was proud they found a way.”
The defensive-minded game on a muddy field took shape as No. 9 seed Rosepine (10-3) ate up nearly the entire first quarter that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Smith to give the Eagles a 7-0 edge.
That’s the only score Many would surrender as they held stud running back Grant Ducote to 55 yards on 22 carries.
Perhaps the most important stand the defense made was forcing a Rosepine three-and-out after Smith intercepted Curtis early in the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers’ D stonewalled the Eagles and kept Rosepine from going on any more of their time-consuming drives.
“Our defense has been lights out all year, and on (Rosepine’s) first drive, we had a couple of penalties to keep their drive going. And then they hit the big throw on fourth down.”
Many’s own rushing game never got fully churning against a stout Rosepine defense, but the Tigers weathered penalties and turnovers to put together two scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
Jamarlyn Garner, who lost a fumble in the first half, scored on a six-yard run as Many tied the game on an extra point from kicker Deacon Lafollette at the 6:57 mark in the fourth quarter.
The touchdown was set up by a 53-yard jaunt from running back Jeremiah James, who led all rushers with 103 yards on 11 carries.
“No penalties and no turnovers – that was the difference late,” Curtis said. “I’m proud of them for digging deep after Rosepine did a good job of playing keep away. When we had the ball, we shot ourselves in the foot.”
Many’s defense answered the bell again with another three-and-out, setting up Many’s go-ahead touchdown.
After a couple of strong Trent Williams’ runs, Many grabbed the lead with a Tackett Curtis 1-yard plunge to go up 14-7 with 1:51 remaining.
Rosepine attempted one last gasp, but Many shut the Eagles down on four plays to end the game.
It’s the second straight year in which Many topped Rosepine in the semifinals, although this past season’s 50-12 win lacked the drama of Friday’s nailbiter.
Now Many will return home to face a hot No. 4 seed St. James squad that whipped No. 5 Avoyelles 48-24.
2:12 R Jake Smith 8 yard TD pass, kick good 7-0
6:57 M Jamarlyn Garner 6 yard TD run, Deacon Lafollette kick 7-7
1:51 N Tackett Curtis 1 yard TD run, Lafollette kick 14-7
M Curtis 1-3-12, 1 Int
R Smith 3-9-19, 1 TD
M James 11-103, Aldredge 8-31, Williams 6-43, Curtis 6-21, Garner 3-6, Mitcham 1-(-3)
R Ducote 22-55
M Aldredge 1-12
Williams 8, Curtis 8, Carheel 6.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports
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