Block gets pick late to land playoff victory over St. Mary’s, 14-6

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

JONESVILLE &045; With just over two minutes to play in Block’s Class 1A playoff opener against St. Mary’s, Bears defensive back Reginald Bowie made a leaping interception in the open field, regained his footing and did the only logical thing.

He didn’t slide to a knee.

He didn’t go out of bounds.

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He went for paydirt.

&uot;I was hoping to run it all the way back,&uot; Bowie said later, still shaking his head. &uot;I was hoping to get on TV.&uot;

Bowie didn’t get his wish &045; he was tackled at the Block 42, just 14 yards after coming down with the ball &045; but it didn’t matter much to anyone in blue. With his fourth interception of the season, Bowie sealed the deal for Block, allowing the Bears to run out the clock and hold on for a 14-6 victory Friday at Henry G. Taliaferro Memorial Stadium.

A close call? You bet.

After dancing past their final five regular-season opponents by a combined score of 301-11, the eighth-seeded Bears (8-3) found themselves in an unfamiliar position: They found themselves in a dogfight.

With speedy senior Demetrius Duncan held to 98 yards on 15 carries and the Block offense able to muster only three first downs in the second half, Block had no choice other than to put the game in the hands of its often-overshadowed defense.

&uot;We definitely thought we would come in here and win the game,&uot; said St. Mary’s coach Johnny Cox, whose 25th-seeded Tigers (6-5) converted only one of seven fourth-down tries. &uot;We just couldn’t get anything going on offense.&uot;

After dropping a 27-26 overtime loss at Buckeye in Week 5, Block coach Chad Harkins arrived at practice the following Monday and started making some changes. He inserted three new faces into the defensive lineup and challenged his veterans to play with more aggression.

Has it worked?

Since Buckeye’s game-winning score against the Bears, Block’s defense has allowed only one score &045; a 40-yard second-quarter touchdown grab by Javier Per, pulling St. Mary’s within 7-6 &045; and solidified its standing as the top-ranked unit in central Louisiana.

There’s no doubt that guys like Duncan, who ended the regular season averaging 14.6 yards per carry, will continue to command the spotlight. But Block’s success has just as much to do with Bowie and his hard-hitting defensive teammates, whose value is never questioned by the people who pay more attention to production than press clippings.

&uot;They say defense wins championships,&uot; said Block defensive coordinator Benny Vault, &uot;and that’s what we tell our team. We’ve been preaching that all year: Step up and make plays.&uot;

Nobody did a better job of that in Friday’s win than Bowie, back on the team after serving a one-game suspension.