Notre Dame scores 28 straight points, runs past Catholic-New Iberia to Division III state title

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NEW ORLEANS – The Notre Dame Pioneers made sure a repeat of 2017 didn’t happen a year later. 28 straight points and capitalizing off special teams miscues led to a 42-21 victory over the Catholic-New Iberia Panthers in the Division III state championship on Thursday evening at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

With the win, Notre Dame captured their sixth state championship in school history. Four of those have come since 2000.

“Everybody had to know what we had on our mind was what happened to us last year,” said Coach Lewis Cook. “It was obvious that the kids were focused in on what we had to do. You could see the determination and the effort.”

The Panthers couldn’t draw up a better start. Quarterback, Trenayvion Amos raced 83 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on the first offensive play. Catholic N.I. took an early 7-0 lead, but the rest of the half belonged to Notre Dame.

The Pios scored 21 unanswered points, starting with their first offensive series. A five-play, 67-yard drive was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run from Ben Broussard on an option keeper. The extra point tied the score at 7-7.

Notre Dame then capitalized off a pair of Panthers special teams mistakes which created short fields. A bad snap on a punt gave the Pios the ball at the Catholic N.I. 42. They scored in five plays on a touchdown run by Noah Bourgeois. Then a short punt of 20 yards was returned for 17 by Blake Smith to set up shop at the Panthers 26. C.J. Thibodeaux finished that short drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to give the Pios a 14-point lead into the halftime locker room.

Amos ran for 139 yards and two scores on 21 carries. He also completed eight of 15 passes for 139 yards. Peter Leblanc was the leading receiver with six catches for 67 yards. The Panthers converted two of eight third downs on the night.

“Amos is a tremendous athlete and we knew he was going to have his moments,” said Cook. “We just didn’t think it would be the first play of the game. It just shows the fortitude of this team to come back and answer. Then the defense just battled tonight. They got some big stops along the way and let us get ahead. It was big going to half up 21-7.”

The Pios continued to crank out the scores, finding the end zone on their first three second half drives. Bourgeois added two touchdown runs in that stretch and Broussard added his first touchdown pass of the night, a 17-yarder to Thomas Bellard.

Offensively, the Panthers moved the ball better in the second half. They amassed 137 yards of offense and scored touchdowns on their first two drives. However, they could not get the stops needed to close the gap created in the first half.

Bourgeois wound up with 162 yards rushing on 23 carries and was named Most Outstanding Player. The Pios racked up 393 rushing yards on 50 carries. Broussard completed five of eight passes for 74 yards. Notre Dame had the edge in time of possession by over seven minutes.

The announced attendance for the first day of the state championships was 10,637.

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