St. Martinville shocks Lutcher

Published 3:11 am Saturday, November 10, 2012


Special to L’Observateur

LUTCHER – Even after three turnovers, eight penalties and several game-changing momentum swings, Lutcher, the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A state football playoffs, still had a chance to win with 4.1 seconds remaining in the game. In the end, however, the Bulldogs let one too many opportunities slip away against No. 30-seed St. Martinville.

Senior Spencer Roussel’s 21-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired, and Lutcher fell to the Tigers 30-29 on Friday at home in the bi-district round. After an undefeated regular season, the Bulldogs’ year is over much earlier than they expected.

“You can’t look at seeds; it’s the playoffs,” Lutcher Coach Tim Detillier said. “This happens every year. When you look at the brackets, there are at least three teams that are not supposed to win. At least three win. I think it was halftime before reality hit the kids, and I can’t fault our effort but the mistakes just did us in.”

Lutcher (9-1) fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter but still seemed destined to move past a feisty St. Martinville squad after a pass interference penalty advance them inside the Tigers red zone with less than a minute to play. Roussel’s first field goal attempt from 25 yards away split the uprights, but a pre-snap offside penalty negated the go-ahead score.

His second attempt, just a few yards longer than an extra point, was so close to the uprights that the Bulldogs sideline initially erupted in celebration. But after the referees signaled the kick no good, the home crowd fell silent, and St. Martinville players rushed the field.

“I talked to the kids earlier this week about how Alabama just played for 60 minutes in Tiger stadium and beat (LSU), and our kids played for 48 minutes,” Tigers Coach Gary Adkins said. “It went down to the last second, and I’m almost speechless because I’m just so happy for our players, our coaches and our community.”

The Lutcher defense, typically stalwart, allowed more points than it had during the last seven weeks combined, a season-high 30. For much of the game, the Bulldogs were pushed around by the St. Martinville rushing attack led by junior fullback Malik Anthony, who finished with 32 carries for 136 yards.

“(Anthony) is just a hard-nosed kid,” Adkins said. “We lost our fullback early in the year, and this kid moved in. He’s just done a phenomenal job. He’s really our second-string fullback.”

The Tigers (6-5) made their game plan apparent during their opening drive, during which the offense ran the ball on five of six plays and junior Jamail Ledet finished with a 1-yard touchdown run less than four minutes into the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 66-yard pass from Jamiah Nelson to fellow senior tight end Kendall Wiltz.

After forcing a three-and-out, St. Martinsville went back to work, driving from its own 15-yard line. Anthony ran the ball 10 times on the possession and a total of 14 times for 63 yards in the first quarter. The Tigers scored on another run from Ledet, this time from the 2-yard line. St. Martinville led 14-0 with 10:50 remaining in the second quarter.

“I did expect them to try to control the clock and run the ball, and (Anthony) had a big game,” Detillier said.

The rest of the first half, however, belonged to the Bulldogs, who came roaring back during its next possession. Junior quarterback Ruston Matherne connected with Roussel for a 22-yard touchdown, capping off a drive that lasted little more than two minutes and drew Lutcher within one touchdown.

After senior linebacker Ryan Jackson recovered an Anthony fumble with 1:50 remaining before halftime, Matherne went to work once again. He ran for 19 yards and completed all three of his passes for 54 yards, finishing with a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior Torian Shorty.

After a successful two-point conversion, the Bulldogs led 15-14 through halftime.

Senior running back DiJon Payne broke off a 25-yard score with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter and gave the Bulldogs a 29-22 lead. St. Martinville, however, responded with another 85-yard drive, assisted by a Lutcher personal foul penalty midway through.

Nelson, who completed just two passes all game, hit Quentin Mitchell for a 37-yard touchdown, a jump ball over two Bulldogs defenders. Down by one point, the Tigers opted to go for the lead rather than the tie. After Lutcher spotted them a yard with another offside penalty, Ledet powered ahead for the two-point conversion that put St. Martinville up 30-29.

Matherne consistently provided a spark for the Lutcher offense, completing 11 of 18 passes for 131 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the team on the ground with 67 yards on 12 carries.

“All year long, the whole season, I think we had three turnovers,” Detillier said. “And I think we had that tonight and then some. Early in the season, we were making those mistakes. Then, of course, we corrected that. Tonight, we kind of went back. We turned it over and made mistakes, and you just can’t do that.”