St. Thomas More smothers Plaquemine, 35-0
LAFAYETTE — Plaquemine’s Green Devils may have paid St. Thomas More’s defense the ultimate compliment in Friday night’s final minute.
The host and top-ranked Cougars had their season-long shutout streak on the line with less than 30 seconds to play at Cougar Stadium when O’Neal Lanieu lined up for a 37-yard field goal. STM led 35-0 at the time, and the only thing riding on the kick was the pride of a defense that had pitched shutouts against Lafayette High and Comeaux in the season’s first two weeks.
But Lanieu’s kick was wide left and short, and the Cougars remained untouched on the scoreboard this season with a 35-point drubbing of the state’s third-ranked Class 4A team.
“This one tells me we have a chance to be a pretty good team,” said STM coach Jim Hightower, who notched win number 399 in his Hall of Fame career and will be going for No. 400 next Friday on the road against another solid team in Catholic-Baton Rouge.
“They (Plaquemine) are very well coached, they’ve got some really good athletes and they’re very explosive. I’m impressed with some of the things they’re doing.”
Impressive could also describe the STM defense, which held the Devils (2-1) to seven drives of three plays or less in Plaquemine’s first nine possessions. The Devils, who entered the game averaging 42 points per outing after wins over East St. John and Port Allen, had only three first downs entering the final three minutes of the third quarter.
“They’re just very sound defensively,” said Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano. “They’re strong up front, and they just do everything right. On the other hand, we made so many mistakes that we don’t even make in practice. We couldn’t move against air in the first half.”
The Devils’ mistakes halted three offensive possessions in the game’s first 15 minutes, and the Cougars made them pay for those twice with a pair of touchdowns in taking a 14-0 halftime lead.
Senior defensive back Cade Broussard was single-handedly responsible for two of those turnovers, picking off a pass early in the second quarter deep in Green Devil territory. STM didn’t score after that Plaquemine mistake, but one series later Broussard was in the right spot when Devil quarterback Herbert Thomas mishandled a snap and made the recovery at the Plaquemine 35.
“It’s pretty phenomenal that we were able to hold that team without scoring,” Broussard said. “To get those two turnovers early was really big for us to get on top. The first one, they just threw it right to me, and the second one just bounced right to me.
“The coaches put us in position to make plays like that, and all we have to do is execute.”
The first of Plaquemine’s four turnovers in the game came on a special teams mistake, when returner Michael Sproles accidentally had a punt bounce off his foot and STM’s Elliot Rountree recovered the loose ball and returned it to the Plaquemine 38.
Eight plays later, William Cryer burst in from four yards out for the early 7-0 lead. It was the first of two touchdowns for Cryer, who added an eight-yard scoring run on STM’s first possession after halftime.
Broussard’s fumble recovery set the No. 1-ranked Cougars up at the Plaquemine 35 in the first three minutes of the second quarter, and on STM’s first play from scrimmage backup quarterback Caleb Holstein found Grant Arceneaux on a crossing pattern for a 35-yard touchdown.
That was one of Arceneaux’s seven catches for 103 yards in the game.
That 14-0 bulge would have been plenty enough, with the way the Cougar defense was playing, but STM’s offense caught fire in the second half and scored on its first three possessions. Cryer’s score capped a 69-yard march, and after a punt the Cougars went 50 yards in eight plays before Chris Primeaux bulled across from seven yards out.
Plaquemine had its second-best scoring opportunity one possession later, with quarterback Treyvon LeBlanc completing three passes in a march that reached the Cougar 25 before running out of steam. Five plays later, though, it was 35-0 when Peyton Landry found John Robertson open on the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown toss.
“Our offense is still feeling its way a little bit,” Hightower said of a unit that threw for 266 yards and rushed for 120 more. “But we were able to put together some good drives against a really good defensive team.”
Landry and Holstein divided time at quarterback once again and shared those 266 yards in the balanced offense.
The only unanswered question in the final four minutes was the scoreless streak, and that looked safe when STM’s Trevor Robertson punted the Devils back to their own nine-yard-line with 3:51 left. But LeBlanc led what became a 19-play drive, completing four passes, and the Cougars’ defensive backups hurt themselves with three 15-yard penalties.
Eventually, the Devils had a first-and-goal just outside the STM 9, but with the home crowd still cheering for the shutout LeBlanc threw two incompletions and was sacked on third down back at the Cougar 20 before Lanieu missed the field goal.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for hanging in there,” Hightower said.
|St. Thomas More 35, Plaquemine 0|
STM – William Cryer 4 run (Trevor Robertson kick)
STM – Grant Arceneaux 35 pass from Caleb Holstein (Robertson kick)
STM – Cryer 6 run (Robertson kick)
STM – Chris Primeaux 7 run (Robertson kick)
STM – John Robertson 53 pass from Peyton Landry (Robertson kick)
RUSHING – PLAQ: Wayne Toussant 6-29, Melvin McClay 3-15, Dallas Ropati 2-23, Thomas Powers 2-9, Michael Sproles 2-4, Leeland Williams 2-5, Herbert Thomas 5-minus 7, Treyvon LeBlanc 4-minus 25. STM: Chris Primeaux 12-73 1 TD, Sydney Lindon 14-52, William Cryer 7-31 2 TD, Peyton Landry 2-minus 4, Caleb Holstein 1-1, Noah Frederick 2-minus 5, Dalen Cambre 1-minus 2, team 3-minus 26.
PASSING – PLAQ: LeBlanc 13-35-2, 154 yds., Thomas 2-4-0, 6 yds. STM: Landry 11-17-0, 156 yds., 1 TD; Holstein 8-13-0, 110 yds., 1 TD; Primeaux 0-1-0.
RECEIVING – PLAQ: Dontayvion Wicks 4-51, Codi Willis 3-22, Toussant 4-65, Ropati 2-20, Sproles 1-4, Seth Landry 1-5. STM: Grant Arceneaux 7-103 1 TD, Mason Pesson 5-39, John Robertson 1-53 1 TD, Cryer 2-23, Jean-Luc LeBlanc 1-27, Primeaux 1-20, Thomas Morton 1-4, Lindon 1-minus 3.
Records: STM 3-0, PLAQ 2-1. Next: PLAQ hosts West St. John Friday, STM at Catholic-Baton Rouge Friday.
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