Victor Gaines totals two touchdowns as De La Salle stifles McMain
By Sam Spiegelman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | October 11, 2013 10:55 p.m.Click here for the original article on NOLA.com
Entering Friday night, the McMain offense was clicking on all cylinders. But in the Mustangs District 11-3A clash, the high-flying passing attack finally stalled.
De La Salle’s new-look offense with Victor Gaines at the helm provided enough juice to take an early lead, while the defense put pressure on McMain quarterback Omari Jones and made stops in crunch time for the Cavaliers (4-2, 1-0) to win their district opener, 14-6.
“We had an awesome game plan against the No. 1 passing team in the state,” Coach Ryan Manale said. “Our defensive coaches did a phenomenal job preparing our team to play 48 minutes on defense, and whenever you can get into district play — in a very brutal district like ours — well take a win anytime we can get it.”
Gaines was the spark the Cavaliers needed, giving his team an early lead then scoring again in the fourth quarter to give the Cavaliers some breathing room — a cushion they would need.
Gaines drew the start for the third straight week — his third week playing the position — and completed eight passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Cavs with 97 rushing yards and a score.
Going toe-to-toe with Jones was tough, but Gaines was up to the challenge.
“I played too fast too early, but I wouldnt have been able to do it without my offensive line,” he said. “They protected me and helped me to do what I needed to do to be a playmaker.”
The De La Salle defense stole the show in the second half. After holding McMain scoreless in the first, the Cavs forced four turnovers — including three Jones interceptions — to hold onto the win. But no interception was more important than the last.
McMain cut the deficit to eight points early in the fourth quarter and had a second chance to tie it up with 2:59 to play. With 80 yards to travel, Jones completed a 21-yard pass on fourth-and-3 to extend the drive. But needing to make a play on another fourth-down attempt, Semaj Lewis broke on the ball and secured the game-sealing interception.
Luke Kelly, who picked off Jones twice in addition to recovering a fumble, said the secondarys aggression is largely due to the pressure the line generated.
“Our defensive ends contained (Jones) because hes a great runner, but we got pressure and thats how I got my interceptions,” Kelly said. “Hats off to the D-line.”
The game began quickly for De La Salle. On the opening drive, Gaines connected with running back Tyrick Luckett on a 19-yard swing pass, and then found a wide-open lane in the defense, collecting 49-yards on a third-and-15. Gaines capped the drive off with a 5-yard burst up the middle, giving the Cavaliers a 7-0 and the only score of the opening half.
The junior was the De La Salle catalyst in the opening half, accounting for 127 of the Cavs’ 132 first-half yardage. According to his coach, his big-play ability sparked the offense,
“Hes a phenomenal leader,” Manale said. “He beat a very good team. I feel really good and Im proud of him.”
The McMain offense was unable to find a rhythm in the first half, as De La Salle held Louisianas passing leader in check. Jones, who entered the game with more than 1,600 yards, was limited to 90 yards and a completion rate of less than 50 percent.
On the Mustang’s final drive, though, Jones piloted the offense’s most promising drive of the half. Jones completed three passes for 32 yards and added another 26 yards on the ground, converting four of the Mustangs’ six first-half first-downs.
But the De La Salle pressure was in full effect when it needed to be. The Cavs sacked Jones three times in a row, dropping the Mustangs back 17 yards and out of field-goal range, assuring they would hold the seven-point advantage at the half.
Jones would finish with 195 yards and a touchdown, but it was the three interceptions that would haunt him in McMains first 11-3A loss.
“Our defense takes a lot of pride in itself. (McMain) had a great game,” Kelly said. “They have a great quarterback, but we took to it him.”