Wildcats come back, topple Tigers in double ovetime, 31-24

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Sports Editor

In a typical Hahnville and Destrehan game, fans are conditioned to expect anything.

On Friday night, the fans in attendance at Destrehan got anything. And also, everything.

After Hahnville quarterback B.J. Young’s fourth down pass in the game’s second overtime fell incomplete in the Destrehan endzone, the Wildcats celebrated with great joy. Their undefeated record was intact, the final score reading: Destrehan 31, Hahnville 24.

&#8220It’s good to come back and win a game like that,” said Destrehan Coach Stephen Robicheaux. &#8220Coach Valdin does a great job with his team, he always has them ready. It was a great win against a very good team for us.”

But with four minutes left, it certainly did not appear the Wildcats (6-0) would avoid defeat in its District 6-5A opener.

After a Brandon Larousse field goal midway through the fourth quarter out the Tigers (5-1) ahead 17-7, Destrehan needed a few big plays against a defense that had suffocated opponents all season long. A six-yard touchdown run by Jerico Nelson made it 17-14.

But the biggest play of the game for the Wildcats might have been the interception by defensive back Trey Watkins with four minutes left. It put the ball at Hahnville’s 39-yard line, and gave Destrehan’s offense a short field.

From there, Destrehan drove down and gave kicker Ryan Rome a chance to tie the game with a 17-yard field goal, as time ticked down.

The next play was the subject of much controversy. Once the ball was snapped, Tim Molton attempted to run with the ball after Hahnville’s kick-block unit got penetration. They tackled Molton before he could get anywhere and the game seemed to be over.

But officials ruled that a dead-ball foul had occurred, and the play to have been blown dead – the snap, officials said, was double-clutched, and effectively was a false start.

The penalty moved the Wildcats back five yards, but the team had new life. Rome converted a 23-yard attempt to send the game to overtime with no time left.

In overtime, Hahnville struck first – Young hooked up with Byrd, as he has often this season, for a 12-yard touchdown, making it 24-17. Destrehan answered, via a Jefferson five-yard touchdown run.

Destrehan’s next possession would prove to decide the game. Jefferson would find Damaris Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown to make the score 31-24.

A holding penalty and a sack by the Wildcats Darrington Sentimore pushed Hahnville back on the Tiger next possession, and Young’s desperation pass on fourth and 28 fell incomplete to ice the win for Destrehan.

&#8220I’m proud of the way my kids played,” said Hahnville Coach Lou Valdin. &#8220I feel like we proved that we can play with the best teams in the state.”

Said Robicheaux: &#8220The kids believed we could get it done, even while down late. I kept telling them that if we could hold them, we’d have a shot.”

Valdin was well aware of the speed and weapons that the Wildcats have offensively. To offset that, the Tigers played primarily a two-deep zone to limit the big play downfield. That put the onus on the Hahnville defensive line to pressure Jefferson and force mistakes – and for most of the night, it did just that.

&#8220Yards are cheap,” Valdin said. &#8220Points are expensive. We wanted to make sure they didn’t get behind us.”

But Nelson’s strong running for Destrehan kept the ball moving. He rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Failure to capitalize on the opportunities he provided kept Destrehan trailing – that is, until the end of regulation.

The score was 7-0 at halftime, with Hahnville’s Jai Steib scoring the first half’s only touchdown. An Antonio Parker interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Byrd kept Hahnville from taking a two-touchdown lead.

Young’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Ivory Washington in the third quarter put Hahnville ahead 14-7 after a Nelson touchdown tied the game.

Jefferson was 17-25 He had two interceptions. Johnson had nine catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Robicheaux pointed out strong efforts by linebacker Rufus porter on defense, as well as the big plays by Watkins and Sentimore that helped lead the team to the win.

For Hahnville, Byrd was a difference maker, catching nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Running back Greg Julien carried the ball 13 times and gained 32 yards to lead the tiger running game. Linebacker Brice Jacobs tallied three sacks. Young was 19-25 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two interceptions.

Valdin also credited defensive back Antoine Evans for his good coverage on Molton throughout the game.

The teams were near mirror images of one another in yardage gained. The Tigers outgained the Wildcats by seven yards, 298-291.

After a game that had everything, Robicheaux acknowledged that his team is fortunate to have escaped with the win.

&#8220My hat is off to Coach Valdin and his staff. They did a tremendous job preparing for us. When these two teams get together, you can always throw everything out the window as far as records and accomplishments. It can always go either way.”