With three games left in the regular season, the Haughton Buccaneers find themselves in a very comfortable position as far as the postseason is concerned.

The Bucs’ 24-14 District 1-5A victory over the Captain Shreve Gators on Thursday night likely cemented a playoff berth. One more win might be good enough to secure a first-round home playoff game.

Haughton entered the game at No. 16 in the LHSAA’s 5A power rankings. The top 16 teams at the end of the regular season will host first-round games.

Haughton improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in 1-5A. Shreve, which lost its fourth straight, dropped to 3-4 and 0-3.

“That was a big one for us,” Haughton coach Jason Brotherton said. “If we can get by Southwood next week that gets us to six wins. Take care of business there we get two shots at getting seven.

“We’ll take that every year, a chance to win seven or eight games at the end. We’ve got ourselves where we want to be. It’s just a matter of going out and continuing to work and get some more big wins.”

“Ugly” was the way Brotherton described Thursday’s game.

Both teams hurt themselves with penalties, especially offensive holding.

“It was a sloppy game, especially in the second half,” Brotherton said.

Neither team did much offensively in the first half.

A Haughton fumble recovery early in the second quarter set up a 24-yard Korbin Schmidt field goal.

Haughton’s first touchdown came after the Bucs stopped a fake punt attempt on fourth-and-8 from the Haughton 42. Cameron Townsend completed a pass to Tristan Sweeney for a first down on third-and-8.

Lavonta Gipson ran for 11 yards and Townsend followed with a 15-yard run. Gipson scored from a yard out and the Bucs led 10-0 at the half.

Shreve came out strong in the second half, scoring on its first drive to slice Haughton’s lead to three.

The Bucs answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a Townsend 1-yard run. Kynan Hayes had a big run on third down and Townsend completed a 23-yard pass. Gipson ran 17 yards to the 1.

Haughton extended the lead to 24-7 late in the third quarter, driving 63 yards. Hayes, Townsend and Gipson all had good runs on the drive with Gipson getting his second 1-yard TD.

Brotherton credited Shreve’s defensive line with slowing the Bucs in the first half.

“They’re good up front,” he said. “But we talked about just keep hammering away, keep hammering away. Finally in the third quarter we were able to open some holes and get some big runs. We had a bunch of big runs in the fourth quarter, but we kept getting penalties and getting them called back.”

The Gators made things interesting late in the fourth quarter. After driving 92 yards for a touchdown, Shreve recovered an onside kick at the Haughton 37. But D.J. Monroe made a diving interception of a tipped pass on the first play.

Greg Phil also picked off a pass deep in Haughton territory on the Gators’ final possession. Harrison Voigt intercepted a screen pass in the first half.

“It was a game that for awhile if we make a play or two it’s a blowout,” Brotherton said “Instead they make a play or two and it’s a close game again. But we came up with some big stops at the end defensively. When we had to have it they stepped up and made plays.”

Haughton will return to Lee Hedges Stadium Oct. 20 for a matchup against Southwood. The Cowboys (0-6, 0-2) visit Evangel Christian on Friday.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com