A year after losing a shot at an outright district championship with a blowout loss at Washington-Marion, LaGrange turned the table on the Charging Indians with a 34-6 win Friday that gave the Gators a share of the District 4-4A crown, along with Washington-Marion and DeRidder.
The Charging Indians (8-2, 4-1) could have won the title outright, but the Gators reeled off 28 straight points in the first half to take control.
The win likely gave the Gators (7-3, 4-1) a first-round home playoff game for the first time since 1999, which was also the last season the Gators won a postseason game.
“It feels really good. The program has come a long way, to be able to host a playoff game means a lot,” said LaGrange head coach Jules Sullen.
The Gators scored a pair of touchdowns midway through the first quarter. Tyler Guillory ran 67 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. On the next play from scrimmage, Tirell Wellmaker picked off a pass and zig-zagged his way down the right sideline for a 63-yard touchdown return.
Gators quarterback Nick Pitre threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the game out of reach. On fourth-and-17 from the W-M 42, Pitre scrambled right and found Hawthorne down the sideline for a 42-yard score. On the next drive, Pitre hit Wellmaker, who spun out of a tackle and sprinted down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown.
Pitre finished with 125 yards on three completions. Guillory ran for 136 yards on 17 carries.
“Our kids were hyped for the game,” Sullen said. “Our running backs did phenomenal. We thought we could run the ball on them and it showed tonight. It is unfortunate that (injured W-M linebacker Melvin Jones) did not get a chance play tonight, but we had to do what we had to do.”
The Gators swarmed Washington-Marion quarterback Maurius Rideaux all night, sacking him four times and forcing two interceptions, both by Wellmaker.
“Those guys on the defensive line — McKenzie Lewis, Malcolm Miles, Louis Whatley and Javon Parker — have been playing great,” Sullen said. “The defense has played well all year. Tirell Wellmaker, what more can you say about him? He is exceptional.”
Rideaux threw for 128 yards and scored W-M’s lone touchdown on a 14-yard scramble just before halftime. Rawlin Guillory added 70 yards rushing.
“LaGrange outcoached us and outplayed us,” said W-M head coach Freddie Harrison. “They played physical and executed their game plan. Hats off to Coach Sullen and his team.”
LaGrange’s Robert Leday scored on an 8-yard run in the third quarter to cap the scoring.
Playoff pairings will be announced Sunday.