Mangham High head football coach Scott Wilcher said his team would have to match Ferriday’s energy, speed and physicality to have a chance for a win at Melz Field Friday in Ferriday
They did one better. The Dragons outmatched the Trojans in a 42-36 upset win in a battle of unbeatens that put Mangham in the driver’s seat for the District 2-2A championship.
“That was a program-changer right there,” said Wilcher, who is in his second year as head coach at Mangham. “These kids saw that if they did the things we’ve been preaching them to do it would pay off big.”
Mangham snapped Ferriday’s 19-game win streak with the win. The streak was the second-longest behind Acadiana at 20.
The loss was the first for Ferriday at Melz Field since a 12-6 playoff loss to St. Helena in 2017, and the first regular season loss at Melz Field since a 20-12 loss to Vidalia.
“It was a bad night,” said Ferriday High head football coach Stanley Smith. “Hopefully this is a wake-up call. We didn’t execute, didn’t carry out our assignments and were not focused. It was a long night. I saw a lack of effort from players.”
Mangham came up short on fourth-and-two on its first drive, stalling at the Ferriday 23 with 8:35 remaining.
The Dragon defense held on Ferriday’s first possession and the Dragons got the ball back on their own 36.
J.T. Smith appeared to put the Dragons on the board with a 22-yard TD run, but it was called back for holding.
Ferriday moved the ball down the field and Jyron Milligan hit Khylyn Lewis on a 23-yard TD pass. The conversion failed and the Trojans led 6-0 with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Mangham drove 65 yards on its next possession in 12 plays with Cam Wilmore going in from five yards out. Kolby Poindexter added the kick to put the Dragons up 7-6 with 8:48 remaining in the second quarter.
The first of two interceptions by Tae Gayden gave Mangham possession at the Ferriday 8-yard line after a 42-yard return on the pick. with 1:40 remaining in the first half. The pick set up a 5-yard TD run by Gilmore. Poindexter’s kick allowed Mangham to go into halftime with a 14-6 lead.
Mangham’s defense held Ferriday top running back Daminya Milligan to one yard in the first half.
“A lot of people think you have to stop the pass first with Ferriday, which is totally backwards,” Wilcher said. “Our defense worked hard on tackling drills — tackling in space, staying square and hemming up the runner. Our defensive coaches did a great job of scheming for this game.”
Ferriday scored on its first possession of the second half as Jacarius Davis went 28 yards for the score. Davis added the conversion run to tie the game at 14-14.
Ferriday’s Elijah White recovered a fumble on Mangham’s next possession and Daminya Milligan scored from seven yards out and ran in the conversion for a 22-14 Ferriday lead.
“I could see that look in some of our kids’ eyes,” Wilcher said. “Ferriday made some great adjustments. We had to settle our guys down. We preached all week about taking it one quarter at a time and we were still there. And then Kaleb made a big play to change the momentum.”
Pleasant scored on a 40-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Wilmore added the conversion run to tie the game at 22-22.
Pleasant finished with 211 rushing yards on 20 attempts with three touchdowns, while passing for another. He totaled 122 passing yards.
“I was kind of tired, but I trusted my offensive line,” Pleasant said.
They made some great blocks on the play. Once I saw daylight I took off.”
“Kaleb had a very good night,” Wilcher said. “He is a special player.”
Pleasant became the first running back to rush for more than 200 yards against a Stanley Smith team. Smith became head coach in 2017.
Pleasant is only one of four opposing players to rush for more than 100 yards against a Smith-coached team — joining Tyre Golmon of Denham Springs, L.T. Major of Franklin Parish and Devin Green of Vidalia.
“Rush defense is what we hang our hats on,” Smith said. “We had a bad night defensively with out eyes. We got caught too many times looking into the backfield when the quarterback was running the ball.”
Ferriday went up 30-22 on its next possession as Jyron Milligan passed 30 yards to Kobe Johnson. Akealis Bloodsaw ran in the conversion with 6:29 remaining.
Mangham pulled to within 30-28 as Pleasant passed 28 yards to Gayden. The two-point conversion failed.
Ferriday was driving on its next possession, but Gayden picked off a pass at his 10 ad returned it to the Ferriday 21 yards line. Pleasant then scored from there to put the Dragons up 34-30.
“That was big,” Wilcher said. “Tae has been good for us all year as a wideout and cornerback. He’s made some big plays. That wasn’t even his guy, but his receiver was in the area and he made the play.”
Gayden finished with 105 receiving yards.
Pleasant raced 35 yards for a score with 2:25 remaining and passed to Shun Haynes on the conversion for a 42-30 Mangham advantage.
Daminya Milligan took a snap out of the wildcat formation and raced 61 yards with 57 seconds remaining to pull Ferriday to within 42-36.
Milligan finished with 171 rushing yards on 15 carries, with 61 coming on the touchdown run.
The Trojans managed only 51 yards from other backs in the contest.
An onside kick bounced up and was free before Gayden jumped on it and the Dragons were able to run out the clock.
Mangham hosts Vidalia Friday.
“I told our guys to enjoy the Ferriday win, but come Monday we get ready for Vidalia,” Wilcher said. “It’s always been a good game and I don’t expect anything different this year. If we want to be a championship team, we come out prepared to play every week.”
Ferriday is trying to find an opponent for the next two Fridays after Delhi Charter cancelled because of a positive Covid-19 test, and Richwood cancelled the rest of its season for the same reason.