NEW ORLEANS -- Only one other time this season before Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome had No. 1 Ouachita Christian trailed at halftime.
"Our seniors looked around in the locker room and were like 'come on guys, it is just a point, we were down 25 at Rayville,'" OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh said. "This was about being able to build on past experiences."
Indeed, the confidence from that week two win where the Eagles overcame a big deficit seemed to spill over to the second half of their 1A championship game against No. 2 Haynesville as OCS claimed its second straight 1A crown with a 20-8 win.
Trailing 8-7 at halftime, the Eagles used a career night from senior fullback Colby Webb to overcome four critical turnovers and extend their school record win streak to 30 games. Webb carried 16 times for 99 yards and three
touchdowns, all career highs.
"I am just so proud of our guys," Fitzhugh said. "We never talked about 'back-to-back' or defending a trophy from last year -- that one is locked away safe in the trophy case -- anything other than getting better each week. It just goes back to the character of our guys and what they stand for."
OCS (15-0) leaned on its defense to make a big fourth-quarter stand. Leading 14-8, OCS opened the fourth quarter by fumbling on its first possession, and Haynesville drove to the OCS three-yard line. The OCS defense stood tall on three straight plays, including fourth-and-goal, to end the threat and get the football back.
"Defense wins championships," Fitzhugh said. "We were in the right spot, but it is more about we had paid the price in the summer, and then you step up and make a play."
OCS then embarked on a game-clinching, 97-yard drive that ate up 6:39 of the final quarter. The drive spanned 14 plays and ended on an 18-yard run by Webb to paydirt.
"It was exciting," Webb said of his swan song in an OCS uniform. "We wanted to pound the ball. I went to our coaches and asked for the ball. We took time off the clock, and were able to win it again."
That strength and stamina showed time and again, and it left quite the impression on the competition.
"This came down to one thing: strength," Haynesville head coach David Franklin said. "Very simply, (OCS was) the better team. They are so strong and so well coached. They made us do some things we don't normally do."
OCS made Haynesville get out of its traditional option rushing game, holding the Golden Tornado to 122 yards on the ground. Forced to throw the ball more, Haynesville quarterback Jerrell Jackson completed just 5-of-14 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions and a pedestrian 3-of-12 on third down.
The final interception came in desperation with 34 seconds remaining when OCS senior Braden Bristo picked off a deep pass. Bristo took a knee on the next play to seal the win.
"I think our effort showed the kind of shape we are in," Bristo said. "It is a great feeling to end our career as seniors like this. It is very special for us."
The teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, then OCS broke the stalemate with a one-yard Webb touchdown run that was set up by his own 16-yard romp. The OCS defense came up with what the Eagles thought would be a momentum-seizing play when Micah Dye dropped Jackson for a 30-yard sack setting up third and 43. Two plays later, on fourth down, the Golden Tornado punted the ball, and Josh Pennebaker fumbled back to Haynesville. Seven plays later, Kendrick Jackson scored on a five-yard run and Critton added the two-point conversion to give Haynesville a short lived advantage.
Haynesville (11-3) were led by fullback Tyus Early who finished with 66 yards on 10 carries. Critton rushed for 19 yards.