Jesuit holds off Tigers’ rally

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 2, 2011



NEW ORLEANS — Hahnville coach Lou Valdin told his players not to hang their heads after a 28-13 opening week loss to Jesuit on a rainy night at Tad Gormely Stadium Thursday night.

The Tigers fell behind 21-0 in the third quarter but rallied to get within eight entering the fourth quarter behind a no huddle passing attack triggered by Easton Melancon, making his first regular season start at quarterback.

But Jesuit, the No. 10 ranked team in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association poll, had too many playmakers on Thursday. Senior running back Paul Stanton rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 23 attempts and linebacker Deion Jones lived up to his lofty reputation, coming up with two sacks and forcing two fumbles – the second of which he recovered himself.

Still, Valdin exhibited pride in his team’s effort, as a Hahnville team replacing 18 starters turned a potential rout into a contest that came down to the final period.

“I worried with this young group, if we fell behind would we lose our composure? We didn’t,” said Valdin. “We played hard. These are great kids that have a lot of pride in Hahnville football.”

In the blink of an eye — actually 43 seconds — the Blue Jays (1-0) extended a 7-0 halftime advantage to 21-0 on a pair of touchdown runs by Stanton. The first came with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter, as Jesuit gashed Hahnville up the middle and Stanton took advantage, scampering for a 61-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jones made a big hit and forced kickoff returnman Ernest Thompson to fumble. Jones recovered at the Hahnville 16, and on this drive’s second play Stanton again got loose, beating the HHS defenders to the corner on a 16-yard scoring run with 7:31 left in the third.

It was the second time Jones came up big, after a sack and forced fumble of Melancon in the first half halted Hahnville’s momentum on a potential scoring drive in Jesuit territory.

“We couldn’t block him,” said Valdin.

Hahnville (0-1) went into hurry up mode, and it seemed to agree with Melancon and the Tigers’ passing offense. Melancon completed his first five passes in the no-huddle and six-of-eight on Hahnville’s first touchdown drive, capped by a 16-yard, fourth down conversion pass from he to Ronnie Green in the front of the endzone, making it 21-7.

Hahnville’s defense held firm on Jesuit’s ensuing drive, forcing a punt from deep in Blue Jay territory, Hahnville took over on the JHS 43 and took just three plays to score, Melancon this time finding Jaylon Bryant for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

“We needed that to happen,” said Valdin. “To build our quarterback’s confidence, our receivers’ confidence. That’s going to be key down the road.”

Said Jesuit coach Wayde Keiser, “(Melancon) is very good. He rose to the occasion (in the second half). And he’s only a junior. He’ll be even better going forward.”

But Jesuit’s Trey Legier blocked the extra point attempt, keeping the score at 21-13.

“That was big,” said Keiser. “It kept us ahead by eight. They had momentum on their side, and we needed to make a play.”

Hahnville forced another three-and-out to begin the fourth quarter, but Jesuit’s returning All-State punter Ralph Friebert pinned Hahnville at its own 2 on a kick that died there on the field of play. Jesuit forced Hahnville into a three-and-out, and despite a good punt by Brooks Vial to keep Jesuit’s start at its own 45, the Jays went eight plays and 55 yards, capping its drive on Stanton’s third score of the night, this one from seven yards out. His 19-yard run earlier in the drive set Jesuit up in the redzone.

Hahnville had one last gasp. Melancon led the Tigers on a drive into Jesuit territory, highlighted by a big 24-yard completion off of a scramble on fourth down to running back Travis Faucheaux.

But the drive, which began at the HHS 20, stalled at Jesuit’s 35 after an incompletion. Jesuit ran out the clock from there.

The Blue Jays led in the first half on Austin Duncan’s 10-yard touchdown run. Jesuit missed a chance for a short field goal when the snap was bobbled.

“We played halfcourt football in the first half,” said Valdin. “We couldn’t get it out of our half of the field. I thought our defense played very well against a real good Jesuit team, but that kind of served to wear them down.”

Now, with Hahnville’s home opener upcoming on Friday, he hopes to see a complete performance.

“Last week in the jamboree, we could run but we couldn’t throw.

“This week, we threw it well but we couldn’t run. Hopefully, this week we put it all together.”