Holy Cross jumps out to big lead early, downs rival Jesuit
NEW ORLEANS – Holy Cross delivered an early 1-2 punch of big plays on its way to a huge first-half lead, then held on in the second half to defeat Jesuit 31-17 Friday night in the 98th renewal of Louisiana’s oldest prep rivalry at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Landon Bates rushed for 213 yards, including 179 in the first half, as the Tigers built a 31-0 cushion in the first 20 minutes before the Blue Jays rallied.
The Tigers (3-2, 2-0) were undeterred by a penalty that nullified an early 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kym Wimberly.
When the penalty put Holy Cross back at its 21, Bates got the points back on the first play from scrimmage, going 79 yards down the Tiger sideline for his seventh touchdown of the year.
Then, two plays after the kickoff, Dru Stephens picked off an Alex Watermeier pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. Many in the large crowd had not even made it to their seats, and the Tigers led 14-0 with less than 2 1/2 minutes off the clock.
“I thought we started fast,” Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo said. “The running game was working early and that was key.”
Holy Cross would keep it going, driving for scores on their next three possessions – a 35-yard Nolan Heitmeier field goal, a 2-yard pass from Jaden Moran to defensive tackle-turned-tight end Mikey Ricks, and a 3-yard run by Culven Hulbert.
Jesuit (1-4, 0-2) finally got something going late in the first half, driving 64 yards in 77 seconds with Michael Torry’s 4-yard run capping the possession to make it 31-7 at halftime.
Holy Cross outgained Jesuit 303-92 in the first half, but the Blue Jays defense stiffened in the second half, allowing only one first down – and that came via penalty.
Watermeier found Brendan Berggren on an 8-yard pass to make it 31-14 with 2:50 left in the third quarter, and Max Scheurich added a 25-yard field goal with 10:24 left to make it a two-possession game.
The Blue Jays had three other second-half possessions finish in Tiger territory, but could not capitalize.
“It’s a big-time rivalry, but we tried to make it all about a football game,” Rebaudo said. “We just focused on trying to be 2-0 in district.”
Both teams return to Catholic League play next Friday. Holy Cross remains at Gormley to face Archbishop Rummel, while Jesuit travels to the Shrine on Airline to meet John Curtis.
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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…