Holy Cross defeats Rummel behind good fortune, strong rushing attack

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon

NEW ORLEANS – The Holy Cross Tigers broke out their lucky green jerseys hoping for their first District 9-5A victory of the season on Homecoming night.

The Tigers would lean on a little bit of luck, a strong running game and their seniors to record a landmark victory for head coach Nick Saltaformaggio’s squad Friday night at Yulman Stadium over perennial powerhouse Rummel Raiders, 28-21.

“Rummel is the benchmark in this district,” said Saltaformaggio. “We needed a defining moment, and I told the kids at halftime that at some point you’re going to look up and see that big red R for Rummel and when you do, you need to look at that beautiful gold HC and believe in yourself.”

A week after rushing for over 300 yards against Helen Cox, Holy Cross (3-2, 1-2) continued their success on the ground by racking up 267 yards against Rummel. Senior Eli Lafrance led the way for the Tigers with 124 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also added a 79-yard touchdown pass.

“We leaned on Eli,” said Saltaformaggio. “Coach Henry Rando used to say, running builds toughness and toughness builds tackling and tackling builds winning.”

For Rummel (3-2, 1-2), a week after being handily defeated by Brother Martin, the opportunity to get back on track and re-establish their defensive prowess was not in the cards. Instead, the Raiders now find themselves in unfamiliar territory with a two-game losing streak.

“We just got bullied,” said Rummel head coach Nick Monica on the team’s inability to stop the Holy Cross running game. “We got pushed around…we didn’t play well, but they just manhandled us up front.”

Unlike last week, the Raiders did not wait until the end of the game to put points on the board. Rummel quickly marched down the field on their first possession of the game, going 80 yards in 10 plays and finding paydirt on a 10-yard touchdown run by Jaidyn Martin to take an early 7-0 lead with 5:34 to play in the first quarter.

The Raiders defense appeared to have regained past form, holding the Tigers to just one first down on their first three possessions of the half.

Rummel marched down to the Holy Cross 37-yard line midway through the second quarter but watched a 47-yard field goal attempt fall short of the goal posts.

Holy Cross wasted no time capitalizing on the missed kick. On just the second play of the drive, Saltaformaggio dipped into his bag of tricks, dialing up a halfback toss pass. Lafrance took a pitch and then pulled up to throw, finding a wide-open Kameron King for a 79-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:41 to play in the half.

Holy Cross was aided by controversy on their next possession. Pinned back on their own 5-yard line, the Tigers rattled off two consecutive first downs on two rushes, moving the ball to their own 29-yard line. The drive appeared to stall out as the Rummel defense stopped QB Cole Canatella for no gain on third down. However, the officials did not change the down marker to fourth down, allowing Holy Cross another third down snap. The Tigers again were stopped short of the first down, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Monica would gift Holy Cross a first down and keep the drive alive.

Two plays later, Canatella hit Koby Young for a 38-yard touchdown pass, giving Holy Cross the lead at 14-7 with 6:31 to play in the third quarter.

The Raiders appeared poised to answer the score with one of their own, but quarterback Casey Avrard fumbled the ball on a keeper and the Tigers recovered at their own 40-yard line.

With momentum swinging swiftly to their side, the Tigers marched 60 yards on nine straight rushes, punching it in on a 2-yard run by Lafrance to extend their lead to 21-7 just before the end of the quarter.

Rummel continued to show fight and composure, regrouping on their next drive. Starting at their own 39-yard line, the Raiders put together an impressive 11-play march capped off by Martin’s second rushing touchdown from five yards out, closing the Holy Cross lead to 21-14 with 9:16 to play.

Unfazed, Holy Cross would immediately answered the Rummel score on the ensuing drive. Taking over at their own 31-yard line, the Tigers stuck to the plan with six straight rushes, scoring on a four-yard Lafrance run to restore the two-score advantage, 28-14, with 6:25 left.

Facing first down on the Rummel 28-yard line, Avrard found Cameron Francioni behind the Holy Cross secondary for a 72-yard touchdown pass, closing the Holy Cross lead to 28-21 just one minute later.

Looking to establish a long drive to eat clock and keep the ball away from the Raiders, the Tigers would benefit from lady luck one last time on their final drive.

After getting a first down in just two plays, the Holy Cross offense was stuffed three straight times to force a punt with 2:32 to go. However, Rummel was flagged for roughing the punter. The Tigers were able to run the clock out in four plays to take home a first district win.

Next week, Holy Cross will look to building the momentum next Friday against John Curtis. Rummel will look to end their skid as they play host to St. Augustine.

  • < PREV REPLAY: With twins facing off, Hahnville edges De La Salle, 14-13
  • NEXT > St. Thomas Aquinas overcomes Riverside in overtime thriller