Slidell holds on for 14-13 win over Hahnville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Undefeated streak comes to an end in quarterfinal round of postseason

SLIDELL – Twenty-seven consecutive victories, including seven playoff games, defending 5A state champions, and the number two seed in this year’s postseason, are the achievements Hahnville High School brought to Slidell from the River Parishes.

When they left town, it was all gone.

The Slidell Tigers defied the odds, backed by a tremendous defensive effort and beat the Hahnville Tigers 14-13 at L.V. McGinty field last night.

Slidell High moves on to play next week against Evangel up north in Shreveport. Evangel defeated East St. John 62-42 Friday night in LaPlace.

Leading 14-13 with just over a minute left to play, Slidell was trying to squeeze just one more first down out of their offense so they could run out the clock, but on third and fifteen from their own 48 yard line, quarterback Stephen Liuzza was sacked back at the 26.

Clint McCall got off a 37 yard punt that was fielded by Kemon Jacobs at the Hahnville 37, who returned the ball five yards to the 42. Hahnville quarterback Bryant Lee completed a pass on first down to Terrance Issac for 18 yards. Lee spiked the ball on the next play, and after two incompletions, Lee hit Brian

Singleton for a 15 yard gain to the Slidell 25 as the clock ran down to 00:24. After two more incompletions, Lee hit Issac again, this time for 12 yards to the Slidell 13. Issac got out of bounds stopping the clock with one second left in the game.

With the stadium rocking, Hahnville lined up for the game winning field goal. Drew LeBlanc’s kick was high, but it wasn’t true, and the celebration began.

Slidell coach Wayne Grubb’s daughter Lauren came out onto the field to give her father a congratulatory hug. In the victorious locker room, Grubb told his team, “We may not have won district, but there ain’t but four teams left in the playoffs, and Slidell High School is one of ’em.”

“We’re like the Energizer Bunny, we just keep going and going. This team’s got great heart, and right now we’re playing with a great deal of confidence. It started in the second half of the season, and kept going through the Thibodaux and O. P. Walker games, and tonight. I kept telling the kids that you have to believe that you have a legitimate opportunity to win,” continued Grubb.

Hahnville got on the board first, capping a six-play, 43 yard drive with Lee hitting a wide open Darwin Washington over the middle with a 30 yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good, and Hahnville led 7-0.

Slidell didn’t waste any time on their next possession. Liuzza hit wide receiver Brian King with a four yard pass. Liuzza carried on the next play making a brilliant 35 yard run down to the Hahnville 35. A personal foul penalty against Hahnville tacked on another 15 yards, and Slidell had a first and ten at the Hahnville 20. On the next play, Liuzza hit wide receiver Percy Caye on a fade pass into the end zone for a twenty yard touchdown. McCall kicked the extra point to tie the score at seven.

After several three and out drives by both teams, Hahnville took a huge gamble by going for the first down on fourth and one from their own 24. Slidell’s defense made Hahnville coach Lou Valdin pay for that decision by stuffing Issac for no gain. Three plays later, Liuzza connected with Brian King for a 24 yard touchdown pass. McCall’s kick was good, giving Slidell a 14-7 lead with 8:14 in the second quarter, and shocking the Hahnville fans.

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, and Slidell going in for the kill shot, Jacobs stepped in front of a Liuzza pass at the Hahnville three and returned it to the five. Thirteen plays and 95 yards later, Lee hit wide receiver Dale Robertson with a 30 yard pass for what seemed to be the tying touchdown. But

Hahnville was called for a personal foul on the play, and the extra point was moved back to the 18 yard line. The kick from 35 yards out missed wide and Slidell kept their lead 14-13, to set up the dramatic finish.

A jubilant Grubb rolled out all the cliches after the game. “It was a team effort. A lot of people counted us out when we were 6-4. We played strong against the run. We’ve given up some long balls lately, but we didn’t give one up tonight. Our defensive coaches did a super job of preparing their guys.” One cliche that no matter how overused will always be true. “Defense

wins championships,” said Grubb. That team averages over 30 points a game, and you held them to 13.”

Winning quarterback Liuzza praised his teammates in the locker room. “This was the best defensive line we’ve played. Our offensive line stepped up a ton tonight,” said Liuzza.

The win evens Grubb’s all-time playoff record at 13-13. This is the furthest Grubb’s Tigers have gone in the state playoffs since their appearance in the Superdome in 1986.