Hahnville edges De La Salle on game’s final play

K'Jon Smith of Hahnville finds an opening against De La Salle in Friday night's game at Tiger Stadium.

Hahnville players raced onto the field at Tiger Stadium after the final play of a hard-fought battle with visiting De La Salle Friday night, the Tigers’ prayers answered and described in two words: wide left.  

The Cavaliers’ 27-yard field goal attempt sailed no good as the clock hit zero, preserving a 14-13 victory for Hahnville in a battle of two of the state’s most decorated programs.  

Once 0-2, the Tigers have recovered to .500 with the non-district win, evening their record at 2-2. 

“When the kick sailed, that was a prayer,” said Hahnville’s Troy Kendrick, the Tigers’ leading receiver who scored the team’s first touchdown of the night. “We work so hard for this. We never wish down on a player, but at the end of the day things happened how they happened … that’s a great football team in De La Salle. It was going to come down to our toughness to finish this game and we pride ourselves on it.” 

De La Salle, Division II state runner-up in each of the past two seasons, recovered a Hahnville fumble at the Cavs’ 35-yard line with 4:09 left in the game. The Cavaliers drove down to the Hahnville 10, with DLS quarterback Cole Milford orchestrating a 55-yard drive before the missed kick. 

The Tigers trailed 7-0 at halftime and had to battle more than a little bit of adversity – starting running back Cole Villasenor was injured early on and missed the second half. Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet said after the game it is feared the injury could sideline the tailback for the remainder of the season.  

That left rushing duties to K’Jon Smith and Joshua Joseph, just as it did a week ago in the Tigers’ win over Thibodaux. But Hahnville’s first touchdown came through the air, as Donovan Friloux found Kendrick, who made tacklers miss and raced down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game with 5:22 left in the third quarter. 

Hahnville’s defense – led in part by middle linebacker Jude Milford, a transfer from De La Salle who was playing against twin brother Cole for the first time ever – stiffened, forcing consecutive three-and-outs in De La Salle’s first two possessions of the second half.  

The Tigers’ next touchdown came in the fourth quarter, and they had to earn it: after a long drive into De La Salle territory, the Tigers were bit by a pair of dropped passes, leaving the team at a 4th and 8. Luquet and the Tigers caught the Cavs’ defense with a run, and Smith converted to set Hahnville up inside the DLS 20.  

“We had success giving them a run fake, backside,” Luquet said. “We felt if we got Donovan on the edge (on third down) we could pick it up … at that point we were in two-down territory. K’Jon, a kid playing for the first time, he did a great job to pick it up … (with Villasenor out), we need he and Josh to carry it for us, and I believe in those guys.” 

At the goal line, a 2nd down Joseph run out of Wildcat appeared to be ruled a touchdown at first, but it was ultimately placed just short of the endzone. On the next play, Smith lowered his head and got into the endzone to make it 14-7 in favor of Hahnville.  

De La Salle (3-2) answered. After a deep ball from Cole Milford to Jace Bienemy down the right sideline just missed, they tried again one play later, this time on a deep crosser – Bienemy got wide open and raced in for a 73-yard touchdown.  

But it wouldn’t tie the game – a bad snap on the extra point meant the Cavaliers had to scramble to try and convert a two-pointer. Darnell Brown wrapped up and made a key tackle to keep Hahnville ahead.  

The Tigers were driving to attempt to ice the game before De La Salle’s forced fumble triggered the game’s final, emotional sequence.  

“I believe in these kids, this coaching staff, our process … I couldn’t be prouder,” Luquet said. “I felt before the season that if we could split these four games (Destrehan, East St. John, Thibodaux and De La Salle) we’d be in good shape. We didn’t expect it to be the first four, but it is what it is. After that Destrehan game, we saw baby steps against East St. John, then last week and this week. And it’s like I just told them, we don’t stop.” 

For Jude Milford, who led Hahnville in tackling on the night, both the win and the chance to play against his brother are memories that won’t soon be forgotten. 

“It feels great … this team has come a long way,” he said. “Coming from De La Salle, knowing how they are, how disciplined they are, I knew we had to get the little things right. It was a four-quarter battle, and we punched back. We kept punching back” 

He smiled when asked if he’d retain some bragging rights within the family. 

“He won’t hear the end of it,” Jude said. 

After several trying weeks, Hahnville students return to school on Monday, bringing back a little more normalcy as the region recovers from Hurricane Ida.  

Kendrick said as that continues to be ongoing, the team hasn’t forgotten another restoration goal. 

“Coach Luquet wants to bring back the tradition of Hahnville football to what it was – we’re down for it,” Kendrick said.  

 

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