BEST IN SHOW
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Lutcher’s defensive unit wanted to grab some headlines. And did it ever do a fine job of that on Friday night.
The Bulldogs’ “Dingos” defense held No. 1 seeded Notre Dame to 75-yards of total offense, setting a new record in the process as it took a 17-0 victory at the State Farm Prep Classic in the Superdome to notch its third state championship this decade.
“How bout them Bulldogs?,” sang triumphant Lutcher coach Tim Detillier after the game.
His defense broke the record for fewest yards allowed in the Class 3A title game, originally set by Redemptorist in 2005 when it held Notre Dame to 115 yards.
“I can’t say enough about my defensive unit. Tonight, the Dingos stepped it up,” Detillier said.
It was a matter of respect, said LHS defensive coordinator Craig Zeringue.
“You know, we didn’t get a lot of respect coming into this game,” Zeringue said. “We held our opponents to 13 points a game, so I don’t know what we had to do. But all week, all we heard about was Notre Dame’s defense and our offense. And our guys took that a little personally.”
It showed. Notre Dame’s defense lived up to its billing, bending but not breaking to allow only 17 points to the powerful Bulldogs (12-2). But Lutcher’s defense completely overwhelmed the Pioneer offense all night long, making life difficult for quarterback Stu Cook, who took over two weeks ago for the injured Ryan Leonards.
“We knew he had a little lack of experience,” said Zeringue. “We put some pressure on him, played not as much with two deep safeties on passing downs. But our secondary has been our strength all year. We weren’t afraid of any quarterback.”
Cook finished 1-of-11 with seven yards and an interception.
Contrarily, Gavin Webster took honors as the game’s most outstanding player, completing 17-of-26 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
After a half of play, Lutcher dominated the stat sheet. It gained 212 yards to only 26 for the Pioneers (13-1). It held the ball for 15 minutes to Notre Dame’s nine, and completed 13 passes to Notre Dame’s none.
Yet, the Bulldogs only led 10-0, the Pioneers only a big play away from making it a game.
“We thought we should have had more points,” said Detillier. “We had some penalties here and there, and stopped ourselves a few times. But their defense is their strength.”
Lutcher took the lead on its second possession, which began at its own 43. In five plays, Lutcher drove to Notre Dame’s 35, where it faced a third-and-two. Webster hit Brandon St. Pierre with a short pass that he turned into a 15-yard gain. That set up a 20-yard Webster touchdown pass to Reginald Jackson, who flashed open on a post route in the middle of the Pioneer defense.
Lutcher would drive to the ND 34 before the Pioneer defense stiffened, forcing a punt on a fourth-and-25. But after a Pioneer three-and-out, Lutcher took over at midfield to embark on its second scoring drive.
A pass to St. Pierre was again the catalyst. On first down from the ND 36, Webster found St. Pierre for a 27-yard gain to the Pioneer 5. Two plays later, it appeared Webster put his team up by two touchdowns as he bullied his way for a two-yard rushing score, but it was nullified by an illegal shift. Dustin St. Pierre would boot a 24-yard field goal to cap the drive.
Of Notre Dame’s six first half drives, none exceeded four plays or 11 yards. The Pioneers’ longest drive of the night was a five-play, 18-yard drive, and they crossed midfield only twice.
But Notre Dame’s hopes were alive as it held Lutcher’s offense out of the endzone for the entire second half — until Webster landed the knockout punch on the exhausted Pioneers, tossing a 26-yard jump ball in the endzone to Jarvis Landry that Landry hauled in for the final score.
“That’s my go-getter. That’s my boy,” said Webster. “When I’m in doubt, I go to him.”
Landry finished with 119 yards on eight catches and 52 yards on eight rushes.
Detillier called Friday night’s win the last chapter of the fire — referencing the inferno that took the team’s field house in 2006. Lutcher went on to win the state championship that season, just as has now to cap the Bulldogs’ first season in its rebuilt “Dog Pound”.
“When you walk in, you see these words on the wall,” said Detillier. “Talent wins games, but teams win championships. We became a team right around October, and it’s carried us to where we are today.”