Hilliard leads Lumberjacks past Wildcats, 49-21

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009



Patterson played close to a flawless offensive game on Friday night as it eliminated host St. James from the Class 3A postseason, 48-21 in a regional round game.

Standout Patterson tailback Kenny Hilliard tallied 316 yards from scrimmage to lead a Lumberjacks team that turned the ball over once, but never punted over the course of the night.

“It didn’t matter where they started,” said St. James coach Rick Gaille. “Big plays, big drives….we never found a way to even slow them down.”

Patterson (9-3) gained 518 total yards, including 286 rushing and 232 passing yards.

It was a contrast from the first meeting between the teams on Sept. 25. In that game, Patterson survived with a 22-20 victory despite turning the ball over six times. Three Hilliard fumbles almost spoiled a 256-yard rushing effort.

But this time, the Lumberjacks took care of the ball.

“We talked about how important forcing turnovers would be to our success on Friday,” said Gaille. “They gave us a chance to win the first game.

“We couldn’t afford to just be even with them in the turnover battle. We had to have the advantage. But Patterson wasn’t having any of that.”

The Lumberjacks led 21-7 in the second quarter when a Kenneth Armant score pulled St. James (4-8) within a score, 21-14. That came off of Patterson’s lone turnover.

But Patterson essentially closed things out before halftime. First, Hilliard scored on a short run with 2:30 remaining to make it 28-14.

Then after a stop on St. James, the Lumberjacks found themselves with one last chance to score, at midfield with six seconds left. Quarterback Nick Nolan dumped a middle screen off to Hilliard, and he did the rest, scoring on a long reception to end the half.

“They blocked one guy and he made seven miss. What can you say,” said Gaille.

Armant finished with all three St. James touchdowns, on runs of 45 and 15 yards, and a 16-yard reception from Antoine Landry.

Gaille noted that Nolan was on point for most of the night, making defending Patterson and Hilliard a near impossible task.

“You have to devote so much attention to where Hilliard is on any given play,” said Gaille. “When the quarterback isn’t sharp, you can commit more to that.

“But when Hilliard is going, and (Nolan) is efficient, they’re very, very tough.”