Kinder gets defensive stop, solves Avoyelles run game at right time

Rodrick Anderson

KINDER — No. 6 Kinder got a clutch play on both sides of the ball in the closing minutes Friday to come from behind to beat No. 11 Avoyelles 28-22 in the regional round of the Class 2A playoffs.

“They were physical, and we knew coming in they were,” Kinder head coach Bret Fuselier said. “I don’t know what everyone else thought, but we expected a game like this.

“We knew it was going to come down to the wire. They found a way to do it. That is what you got to do. I am proud of the coaches’ great game planning, and a great job by our kids of executing tonight. It wasn’t pretty all the time, but we beat a good football team, and that is what you have to do.”

Kinder (7-2) will travel to No. 3 Loreauville (8-0) in the quarterfinals. The Tigers beat No. 14 Rosepine (5-3) 41-18 Friday.

Kinder struggled to stop the Mustangs’ (5-4) physical run game most of the night, but with 6:22 left in the game, Bryce Laughlin stopped Dacareyn Sampson short of a first down on fourth-and-8.

Avoyelles backs Carlos Bazert and Carl Barton combined for 251 yards.

“We talked about it in our pregame about you are going to be faced with a situation one time in the playoffs and it is all stacked up against you,” Fuselier said. “You have to make a play.

“It came down to that series, and the defense stepped up and made a play.”

The next piece of the puzzle came on third-and-17 from the Mustangs’ 29-yard line after a holding call cost the Yellow Jackets 10 yards. Quarterback Graham Fawcett’s pass looked as if it would be intercepted, but the ball glanced off the hands of a pair of defenders and into the arms of Darius Captain for 27 yards. Laughlin capped the drive with a 2-yard run to put Kinder up 28-22 with 2:03 left in the game.

“They had two defenders there and somehow someway it went off of their hands into Darius Captain’s hands,” Fuselier said. “I am so happy for Darius.

“We have two young quarterbacks. All year long he has kind of been the forgotten guy, and he made that play. He is such a hard worker.”

Avoyelles took a 22-13 lead with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter on a 59-yard halfback pass from Travon Parker to Sampson, stunning the Yellow Jackets on fourth-and-7.

But Kinder got an explosive 56-yard score from Tylan Ceasar to cut the Mustangs lead to 22-20 with 9:38 left in the game. Ceasar finished with 116 yards on eight touches, and Laughlin had 54 yards on 10 carries.

Avoyelles dominated the time of possession in the first half, burning through nearly all 12 minutes of the first quarter and took an early 6-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Bazert.

The Yellow Jackets got a defensive stop late in the second quarter. The Mustangs were threatening to go up two scores with its second trip to the red zone. But on fourth-and-7 from the Kinder 14-yard line, Austin Nolen knocked Barton out of bounds a yard short of the first down marker.

Starting from their 8-yard line, the Yellow Jackets wasted little time flipping the score with a five-play, 92-yard drive.

Ceasar injected some energy into the game with a 43-yard run while breaking several tackles, and quarterback Graham Fawcett picked up 26 yards to the Mustangs’ 19-yard line. Fawcett found Dee Fontenot who sidestepped a defender to score from 19 yards out for a 7-6 lead with 2:56 left in the first half.Kinder’s Tylan Ceasar, right, hangs on to the ball for a large gain against Avoyelles during a Class 2A regional playoff game Friday night in Kinder.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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