Sterlington still sits on the District 2-3A throne.
Fullback Jordan Townsend rushed for four touchdowns — all in the first half — and the Panthers pitched their second shutout in three weeks Thursday night in a 28-0 victory over Carroll.
Sterlington (9-0, 4-0) improved to 14-0 in regular season district play since moving into Class 3A three years ago.
Regrouping from a 2-8 2018 campaign, the surprising Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1) emerged as Sterlington’s latest challenger.
On a cold, breezy and damp night, the showdown for the conference championship was settled by halftime.
Sterlington found its offensive rhythm early, starting the game with a crisp nine-play, 63-yard drive.
Townsend’s 12-yard carry and Dallas Reagor’s 13-yard burst behind a block from tight end Hixson Street led to a first down at the Carroll 28.
Jy Brown’s stop for a two-yard loss brought up third-and-five before Reagor moved the chains on consecutive plays with runs of seven and 16 yards.
On first-and-goal from the 3, Townsend followed center Cameron Rivera into the end zone. Jacob Green’s PAT made it 7-0 less than four minutes in.
“I told our guys all week that we would have to weather the storm because Carroll was going to come out fired up and excited, but we were the storm. We came out hot,” Sterlington coach Lee Doty said.
Flagged for holding on the kickoff, the Bulldogs began their first series from their own 8.
Three runs by Montrelle Jones netted 35 yards, highlighted by a 21-yarder, as the Bulldogs advanced to the 49. An encroachment violation on third-and-four gave the visitors a first down at the plus-49.
Antonio Hollins then kept for 15 yards and another first down at the 31, but the drive fizzled from there.
Cole Jones blew up a jet sweep for a loss of five, a mishandled snap resulted in a loss of eight and a combined sack by Cole Jones and Townsend for negative-11 yards brought up fourth-and-34 from the Carroll 45.
Taking over at the 26 after the punt, the Panthers went three and out. Jackie Wallace, Bobby Williams and Derrick Conner stopped three straight running plays for short yardage to bring on the punting unit.
Parker Coley then unloaded a 72-yard punt, which rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
Four plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, the Bulldogs kept their offense on the field on fourth-and-one. Sophomore Caleb Andrews shut down the rushing play for no gain, and the Black Cats took over with a short field at the 29.
The early gamble was more bad execution than bad decision as the Bulldogs did not carry out the proper blocking assignment.
“We knew we were chasing possessions, so I decided to roll the dice, and we didn’t get it,” Washington said. “It wasn’t anything they did. We ran a lead and both of my guys doubled-teamed instead of blocking out on the end, and he made the play.”
Four plays later, the Panthers doubled their lead to 14-0 on Townsend’s one-yard run.
Feeding off the momentum, the Panthers would land the coup de grace moments later.
Green’s ensuing sky kick was held up in the wind, and Colin Foy fielded the ball on the hop, enabling the Panthers to maintain possession at the plus-44.
Three plays later, on first-and-10 from the 26, Townsend ran through a defender at the 17 and sprinted to paydirt. Townsend’s third touchdown made it 21-0 with 8:41 to play in the half.
Two series later, Seth Temple’s fumble recovery off a strip and sack by Cole Jones turned the ball over to the Sterlington offense at the 14.
Reagor converted a fourth-and-one with a two-yard run before Townsend powered in from a yard out to make it 28-0, 42 seconds before halftime.
Coley’s stop in the backfield and Foy’s 11-yard sack on a perfectly-timed blitz forced Carroll to punt from its own 15 to start the second half.
Starting from the plus-37, the Panthers drove to the 16 before Donald Nabors intercepted at the 9 to end the threat.
Carroll battled until the final whistle.
Beginning their final possession from the minus-45, the Bulldogs moved inside the 10 behind Hollins’ 14-yard pass to Emanate Brown.
Will linebacker Layton Rainbolt’s nine-yard sack on third-and-goal from the 6 defused the drive and preserved the shutout.
“I was proud of our guys defensively,” Doty said. “I told them all week that you never lose when the other team doesn’t score. Cole Jones did what he does every week. I thought (defensive end) Jordan Doaty played the best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
Sterlington rushed for 192 yards, while going 0-for-2 through the air. Townsend finished with 90 yards on 17 attempts, followed by Reagor with 18 carries for 87 stripes. The Panthers managed only 33 yards and two first downs on two second half possessions, but the damage had been done.
Carroll was held to 150 yards, including 41 yards on 30 rushing attempts.
Cole Jones led the Panthers defensively with 2.5 sacks, one tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
“Sterlington executed way better than we did,” Washington said. “We just have to put a gameplan together, and get ready for next week.”
Both teams are expected to host first round playoff games next week. Postseason brackets will be released Sunday.
SENIOR NIGHT: Sterlington’s seniors recognized prior to their final home regular season game were Reece Brooks, Dylan Owens, Hayes Crockett, Layton Rainbolt, Hixson Street, Harrison Womack, Seth Temple, Dorian Eddins, Jaden Davis, Cole Jones, Dallas Reagor, Tyreece Mitchell, Jordan Townsend, Oren Keller, Zach Jones, Lane Atwell, Matthew Husser, Brock Risinger, Braden Bruscato, Jacob Smith and Micah Bridges.
The senior class has achieved a four-year record of 46-6.
Notes: Sterlington outscored its foes 321-89 during the regular season. .., Carroll free safety Donald Nabors intercepted a pass for the second straight week.
By the Numbers
CHS …………………………. SHS
13 ………. First downs ….…. 10
30-41 ….. Rushes-yards …… 32-192
109 …….. Passing yards …… 0
20-13-0 .. Passes (A-C-I) ….. 2-0-1
4-25.2 …. Punts-avg. ….…… 3-43.3
2-2 …….. Fumbles-lost …..… 0-0
8-59 …… Penalties—yards … 7-55
Carroll ………. 0 0 0 0—0
Sterlington …. 7 21 0 0—28
S—Jordan Townsend 3-run (Jacob Green kick), 8:19
S—Townsend 1-run (Green kick), 10:28
S—Townsend 26-run (Green kick), 8:41
S—Townsend 1-run (Green kick) 0:42
RUSHING—Carroll: Montrelle Jones 15-69. Sterlington: Townsend 17-90-4, Reagor 18-87.
PASSING (A-C-I-Yds-TD)—Carroll: Antonio Hollins 20-13-0-109-0,
RECEIVING—Carroll: Cedric Woods 4-46, Emontae Brown 3-21, T Bell 3-18.