In their second come from behind victory in as many weeks the Hahnville Tigers advanced into the second round of the playoffs with their 25-21 win over the St. Paul Wolves.
The Wolves did not go down without a fight though. On the final play of the game with fourth down and one yard to go with four seconds on the clock a deflected pass ended up in the hands of one of St. Paul’s wide receivers who pitched it out to their tailback for a long run weaving in out of Hahnville’s defense deep into Hahnville territory before being taken down within the five yard line.
As a flag lay on the ground with no time on the clock Hahnville coaches called for the defense to come back out on the field because a game cannot end on a defensive penalty, but once the team learned the penalty was on their opponents and the game was over the celebration began.
Earlier in the game it seemed like a long shot that the Tigers might get to this point.
St. Paul’s came out with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter off a strong passing game that saw a number of large gains leading up to the first touchdown and a play action pass on a fourth down with one yard to go that went for 30 yards on their second score.
Head Coach Lou Valdin said the Tigers defense made a few big mistakes to put the team in a hole.
“We blew a coverage there and we lined up wrong on another play,” Valdin said.
But after finding themselves down early the Tigers picked up the momentum on offense and instead of relying on the legs of tailback Sergio Medina, as they have in their past five games, it was quarterback Easton Melancon and Hahnville’s receiving corps that brought the team back.
Melancon had what is likely the best passing game of his career. Halfway through the second quarter Melancon hooked up with wide receiver Kailon Carter who hugged the sideline and high stepped out of two tackles for a 52-yard touchdown after which kicker Craig Ford missed his first extra point on the season bringing the score to 14-6.
After a defensive stand Hahnville boomed back into action when Melancon completed a 67-yard pass to wide receiver Rickey Preston, however, Preston fumbled the ball and the Wolves picked it up on their own three-yard line.
After a defensive stand Hahnville’s offense was able to convert a few first downs and Ford would come back from the missed PAT to kick a 39-yard field goal to finish off the first half with a score of 14-9.
In the second half the Hahnville defense stepped up their game immediately and held St. Paul’s to a three and out to begin the half. The Hahnville offense came back and got a first down on a few short runs by Medina, but were unable to convert a fourth and one at midfield and turned the ball over on downs.
After what looked to be another three and out the Wolves faked a punt for a run up the middle and a first down. However, an offensive pass interference call on the next play would set them back 15 yards and after defensive end Juvon Murrey came up with a tackle for loss on third down they were forced to punt.
On the next series disaster struck when the ball popped out of Melancon’s hands as he was sacked deep in Hahnville territory on a third down. After a struggle over possession by the two teams the ball ended up rolling out of bounds at the Hahnville two-yard line.
On the next play punter Brooks Vial booted the football from deep within his own end zone and St. Paul’s return man caught a seam returning the ball back to the two-yard line. St. Paul’s scored their final touchdown of the night on a two-yard run the next play to bring the score to 21-9.
The Tigers came roaring back from St. Paul’s score with a 15-yard pass to tight end Tyler Lamers and then a 44-yard toss Preston. However, Melancon was sacked on third down and six for a ten-yard loss and Ford came on to kick a 40-yard field goal to bring the score to 21-12 to end the third quarter.
After again stopping the Wolves’ offense Hahnville took over in the beginning of the fourth quarter and within 55 seconds Melancon connected on passes to three different receivers that ended with a five-yard touch down catch by Preston for a 21-19 score after a successful PAT by Ford.
Hahnville’s defense had their best stand of the night on the next series after linebacker Cornelius Darensbourg foiled a reverse for a loss of nine, which St. Paul’s followed up with a pitch out of bounds for a two yard loss and an incomplete pass before punting.
The Tigers’ offense would put the game away on the next drive.
On a third down and five Melancon kept the drive alive by completing a short pass to Lamers for the first down. It looked like the drive was coming to an end when the Tigers found themselves on a third down and 15 due to an offsides penalty, but a draw play up the middle by Medina caught the Wolves’ defense off guard and he turned it into a 24-yard gain down to their two-yard line and followed it up on the next play with a sweep into the end zone to for a 25-21 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
The Tigers would hold onto that lead for the remainder of the game.
Melancon said he was proud of the way Hahnville handled themselves after starting the game off behind by two scores.
“That group of guys right there they are awesome. I love my team. They never quit fighting,” Melancon said. “Last week we were down 14-0 nothing and came back and won and the same thing happened this week. That was an excellent ball club and we just kept fighting and never quit.”
Valdin said with the number of mistakes his team made pulling off the win was an extraordinary feat.
“We were fortunate,” Valdin said. “We said coming into the game you can’t make any mistakes. We can’t make any special team mistakes. We can’t have any busts on defense. We can’t turn the ball over…we did all that and we still ended up winning. I don’t know maybe we’ve got an angel in our pocket.”
In the second round of the playoffs the Hahnville (6-5) will take on Parkway (10-1) at home on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.