By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports
Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton has never minced words when talking about Byrd High School, referring to the Yellow Jackets as “the standard” in District 1-5A. Friday night at Lee Hedges Stadium, Brotherton’s Bucs beat “the standard” 23-14, spoiling Byrd’s Homecoming.
“We like to always feel like we have a chance to win,” Brotherton said. “We feel like our program is to that point where we feel like we can beat anybody. As weird as it sounds – I’m telling you – the close loss to Parkway . . . even though you lose the game, I think that opened our kids’ eyes that if we play a certain way, we play well, we play clean, we can beat people that are good. It’s hard to say a loss springboards your season, but I really feel like it did.”
Buc running back Tyler Rhodes believes.
“He doesn’t say much,” Brotherton said. “He would rather run through you than around you. I joke with him to try to make somebody miss once in a while.”
Brotherton was in a physical District 1-5A gridiron battle, not a debate contest, so Rhodes’ talents came in handy. He rushed for a season-high 150 yards on 21 carries — 92 of Rhodes’ yards came in the second half.
After the game’s opening — a 10-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Byrd’s Devon Strickland — it looked like it would be a night when the Yellow Jackets would get right after a 63-28 loss to Benton last Friday night.
There seemed to be no concerns with Byrd’s backup quarterback J.D. Gallman getting his first varsity start under center for the Yellow Jackets. Three-year starter Lake Lambert was injured in last week’s loss to Benton.
Haughton answered with its own clock-eating first-quarter drive, but it ended with a Carter Ebarb 37-yard field goal.
“The 2022 Haughton Bucs play kind of like Byrd does,” Brotherton said. “We run the clock down and don’t get in a hurry. We give it to our big hoss at running back and let him do his thing for the most part. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of possessions because you know how they are going to play.”
The Bucs took the lead with 6:58 left in the first half when Colin Rains found a wide-open Jalen Lewis for a 65-yard touchdown pass.
Both teams scored late in the first half. Haughton hit paydirt on a 14-yard touchdown run by Rhodes. Byrd tallied on a three-yard run by sophomore Malachi Johnson.
The Bucs led 17-14 at the half.
The story in the second half was four consecutive turnovers by Byrd – and those 92 yards rushing by Rhodes, who had a touchdown run of 29 yards with 9:25 left in the game for the only score of the second half.
“I knew we had them beat after that touchdown,” Rhodes said.
As far as his overall performance?
“It’s all about the offensive line,” Rhodes said. “I’m nothing without them. Coach told me at halftime to keep running the ball and hopefully, you know, we would come away with a win.”
Despite the turnovers, Byrd had a chance – although slim – with just under three minutes remaining. Closing in on the red zone, Gallman went back to pass and the ball tipped off the hands of the intended receiver. Haughton’s D.J. Riser snagged the ball and took off running toward the Buccaneer sideline, sealing the victory for Haughton, who improves to 4-2, 2-1 in 1-5A.
Byrd falls to 4-2 and 1-2 in district. It doesn’t get any easier for the Yellow Jackets, who will face an undefeated Parkway (6-0) team next Friday night.
Haughton will clash with district and parish rival Airline.
“We want to win every game we play, I’ll be honest with you,” Brotherton said. “I think this sets us up for a good second half. I know we have a lot of big games coming up. We always say we want to play in big games. We’re going to have a huge game next week at Airline. I’m excited.”
Contact Jerry Byrd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Haughton 23, Byrd 14
Score by quarters
Haughton | 3 |14 | 0 | 6 | – 23
Byrd | 7 | 7 | 0 | 0 | – 14
B – Devon Strickland 3 run (Abram Murray kick)
H – Carter Ebarb 37 FG
H – Jalen Lewis 65 pass from Colin Rains (Ebarb kick)
H – Tyler Rhodes 14 run (Ebarb kick)
B – Malachi Johnson 3 run (Murray kick)
H – Rhodes 24 run (kick blocked)
Haughton (36-174) – Rhodes 21-150 2 TDs, Jamarion Montgomery 1-0, Rains 12-minus-23.
Byrd (32-164) – Tyler Nicholls 10-76, Johnson 11-47 1 TD, Strickland 8-33 1 TD, Dixon Poirier 3-8.
Haughton – Rains 11-15-1, 163 yards, 1 TD; Rhodes 0-1-0.
Byrd – Gallman 6-11-1, 91 yards
Haughton – Montgomery 3-24, Lewis 2-96, Rashard Douglas 3-24, John Ecot 3-3.
Byrd – Jackson Dufrene 3-62, Strickland 1-11, Poirier 1-10, Connor Ridenour 1-8.