Hahnville falls in opening round shootout

Hahnville QB Donovan Friloux throws during a midseason game.

It wasn’t at all what Hahnville envisioned. 

The Tigers’ five-game winning streak came to an end Friday night – and with it, their season – as No. 12 Benton won a 38-31 shootout at home over the No. 21 seeded Tigers.  

Benton recovered two onside kicks during the game and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns – including the eventual game-winner, one that came on the kickoff following a game-tying touchdown and successful two-point conversion by Hahnville. 

“It was a tale of four plays,” said a disappointed Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet, as he and his team returned home from Shreveport.  

Just over a week ago, that trip was not one Hahnville expected to make.  

The Tigers were eager to wrap up the regular season with a win and then learn who they would be hosting in the playoffs – a home date it had earned and one that promised to carry a great emotional atmosphere with it in the wake of Hurricane Ida. As its community rebuilt, the Tigers in kind rebuilt their season after an 0-2 start. 

But the LHSAA announcement last week that De La Salle would have to forfeit multiple wins affected each of the team’s the Cavaliers had faced, Hahnville among them – the Tigers earned a 14-13 win over a De La Salle team that would go on to be 5-2 before forfeiting four wins.  

The impact to Hahnville’s power ranking was significant – the team dropped 10 spots and went from a virtually guaranteed home date to what turned into a six-hour road trip up north.  

Luquet said the Tigers ultimately didn’t do what was needed to come away with the win – but he also said he simply felt for his players. 

“These guys haven’t had anything go our way all year,” Luquet said. “The storm, then we fight our tail off to win five games and get a home playoff game, then the forfeits and we have to go on the road to face a team like this in the playoffs. That’s a well-coached team and they executed their gameplan. They put their guys in the right position and they outexecuted us. 

“But, still, we shouldn’t be getting on a bus for a six-hour ride home. That’s for sure.” 

Hahnville didn’t lack for intensity – it raced out to a 14-0 lead early in the game, with Donovan Friloux connecting with Titus White for the first score and then a returning from injury K’Jon Smith punching in the night’s second touchdown from 10-yards out. That start included a defensive stop by Hahnville on Benton’s first drive, holding firm after the latter executed and recovered an onside kick to start the game.  

But after Smith’s score, Benton’s Pearce Russell took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead in half.  

“We missed a couple of tackles, jumped out of our lane … things we haven’t done all year on special teams,” Luquet said. “We talk about wrong shouldering … you do it against a team you overmatch, you can get away with it. You do it in the playoffs, that team is gonna capitalize.” 

That was the start of a seesaw, back and forth game that saw Benton tie things up, Hahnville take a 20-14 lead on a Cincere Simmons touchdown run and Benton jump back ahead 21-20 at halftime.  

Benton carved out a 31-20 lead before Hahnville fought back to tie. Tate White converted a field goal to cut the lead to eight, then HHS tied the game on a Friloux touchdown run and two-point conversion.

But Benton snatched the lead back immediately on its second kickoff return for a score of the night.

Hahnville trailed 38-31 late in the fourth quarter but drove down to the Benton 30. But with about a minute left and facing a fourth down, Hahnville couldn’t offset Benton’s pass rush, a sack of quarterback Donovan Friloux ending the team’s season.  

Luquet said Hahnville prepared during the week for Benton’s onside kick, noting the first of the night came on a variation different than anything Benton showed on film, while the second came down to simple execution of a concept HHS had practiced for.  

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Luquet said.  

Friloux finished the game with 70 yards on 20 carries, while completing 14-of-22 pass attempts for 131 yards and one touchdown. Cincere Simmons, known for his dominating play on the defensive line, played two ways and led the offensive backfield with 12 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Troy Kendrick caught 10 passes for 64 yards. Joshua Joseph totaled 95 yards and a touchdown, a 58-yard receiving score.

It was a season the Tigers hoped would extend much further, as a dominating defense was meshing with a maturing offense as the team entered the postseason.  

But the loss notwithstanding, Luquet said he was proud of a group that battled through adversity on and off the field, starting this season with Hurricane Ida, and a senior class that’s gone through even more. In 2018, the current senior class went through a season impaired by the ruling that quarterback Andrew Robison was ineligible. In 2019, it was a season ended when an apparent playoff game-winning kick was negated by penalty at Zachary. In 2020, COVID-19.  

“I’m not sure these seniors have had a normal year since they’ve been here,” said Luquet. “Everything they’ve gone through … our leaders really stepped forward this year and showed the character they have. Some teams, with lesser leadership, would have folded at 0-2. These are resilient guys.  

“I told them I loved ‘em and that I was proud of them. It hurts. It’s gonna hurt. But the sun will be up tomorrow, and they can look in the mirror and know they left it all out on the field.” 

 

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