The Hahnville Tigers looked very strong at halftime last Friday against a tough St. Augustine team. The defense had just made a crucial stop on a fourth and goal with only seconds remaining in the second quarter and the team took a 21-14 lead into the locker room. However, three second half turnovers changed their fortune as the Purple Knights were the ones who ended up going home with a 40-21 victory.
|Eric LeBlanc/Herald Guide
|Hahnville receiver Jaylon Bryant makes a diving tackle on special teams while fellow Tiger Anthony Mott comes in to help finish off the ball carrier.
"There are two things that win or lose football games: field position and turnovers," said Hahnville Head Coach Lou Valdin. "And turnovers killed us Friday."
The Tiger defense was strong in the first half, with defensive lineman Logan Gonzalez forcing a fumble which fellow lineman Jermon Lathers picked up and ran 82 yards for a touchdown. Also defensive back Jerquinick Sandolph intercepted the Knights' first two-point conversion attempt. But despite the big plays, there was still room for improvement.
"Defensively, we didn't do a good job in the backfield," said Valdin. "When you blitz, you've got to get the running back on the ground in the backfield."
On offense, the Tigers were a mixed bag. There were big plays like the 47-yard touchdown catch and run by running back Travis Faucheaux and a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ronnie Green. But the running game was not as potent as it has been in previous weeks and quarterback Easton Melancon was sacked four times.
"Our overall effort was good, but I was disappointed in our pass protection," said Valdin. "We couldn't pick up the blitz, and because of that our quarterback took a beating."
The turnovers began late in the third quarter with the score tied at 21-21. The fumbles, two on the snap, would lead to two St. Augustine touchdowns. Without those miscues, Valdin thinks it would have been a vastly different game.
"Without those fumbles, we would have won the game decisively," he said "We were driving down twice and we would have been up by two scores. On the second turnover, we were in field goal range. And the third turnover gave them goal to go."
The loss dropped the Tigers to 1-3 on the year heading into the last week of non-district play. This Friday the Tigers take on the 2-2 McDonogh 35 Roneagles.
"They're better than St. Aug," said Valdin. “This is the Orleans Parish All-Star Team. Their offensive line is gigantic and they come off the ball well. They also have one of the fastest backs I have ever seen [in Carlos Henderson]. We just can't turn over the ball."
Despite the strong running game, the Roneagles have been susceptible to turnovers and teams have found success running the ball against them, which plays to the Tigers' strength.
"Offensively, we stress ball security and we run the football," said Valdin. "We try to end every possession with a kick whether that be an extra point, a field goal or a punt. We have an outstanding kicker, but we’ve been struggling to get him in situations where we can use him."
The Tigers' goal on defense remains the same as it does every week; stop the run, hit the quarterback and take the ball away. Valdin feels that, "if we hold on to the ball and not turn it over, we'll be okay."
With a loss this week, the Tigers would fall to 1-4 on the season, but Valdin is focused more on winning the district than their record outside of it.
"I think it's more important this week that we play well than getting a win," he said. "It would be nice to get a win, but this week I would rather us play the best we can for 48 minutes and lose than play bad and win. After this week, though, it's more important to win."
The Tigers will face off against McDonogh 35 at home on Friday at 7 p.m.