It was a wild one at Tiger Stadium Friday night.
A Mandeville two-point conversion came up empty and the celebration on the Hahnville sideline was on as the Tigers rallied from an 11-point second half deficit – and six touchdowns by the Skippers’ Nate Sheppard – to earn a 42-41 overtime victory.
Calvin Smith’s 10-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime provided the winning points, scoring off left tackle from Hahnville’s “Beast” formation, a heavy set akin to the Wildcat in which a running back lines up at quarterback.
Mandeville (0-2) scored on a third-and-9 play to pull within one on Cooper Desroches’ throwback pass to Sheppard on a well-designed play that left the latter wide open.
The Skippers called timeout and elected to decide the shootout right then and there with a two-point attempt. Desroches took the snap and feigned a rush attempt on a draw, then threw a jump pass that went just high of his receiver’s fingertips, ending the game and cementing the win for Hahnville (1-1).
“It feels good … we won the game, and I don’t even know what to say,” said Smith. “But it feels good. We kept fighting as a team and got the job done tonight. It was frustrating at times but we kept fighting as a team and got it done.”
This was a game that showcased the best of what each offense can offer, with Hahnville’s powerful running game and deep collection of rushers juxtaposed with Mandeville’s spread-it-out, high octane passing attack around Sheppard as its central playmaker.
Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet said his team showed guts on Friday night. The Tigers were missing starters in the secondary who were out with illness, and wide receivers Dakota Williams and Titus White played both ways to help compensate. The Tigers have already been playing without starting quarterback Donovan Friloux, and new starter Ryan Gregson made major strides in the victory.
“It’s a total team win. Sometimes you get lucky in this game,” Luquet said. “I thought we ran the football well. Defensively, we struggled in first half. They went up two touchdowns, kind of like week one for us. This is a very young group learning on the fly. I’m so proud of this team. It was a great effort.”
He said Smith as well as the Tiger blockers came up clutch to score in overtime.
“(Smith) did a great job, but Chase Brooks, Joshua Joseph and Josh Smith, those guys and the offensive line got it done blocking for him. We knew we were going Beast on the first play going into overtime. To score it on the first play, kudos to all of those guys,” Luquet said.
Hahnville led 21-19 at halftime, but Mandeville surged ahead in the third quarter. Sheppard gave his team a 25-21 advantage on a 14-yard run off the left side with 7:23 left in the third quarter. A two-point attempt was no good.
The Skippers forced a punt and it wasn’t long until they were in the endzone again. A Cincere Simmons sack – his second of the night – pushed Mandeville back, but a deep ball from Deroches to Sheppard down the sideline secured a 50-yard touchdown and put Mandeville up 32-21.
On Hahnville’s next possession, Emil Allen sacked Ryan Gregson to make it a third and 17 situation for the Tiger offense. Gregson fired a ball downfield to Titus White to convert the first, and that seemed to be the spark Hahnville needed. Two strong runs by Smith, the second of which resulting in a touchdown, pulled Hahnville within four.
Simmons came up big again for the defense, forcing a fumble and setting Hahnville up in position to retake the lead. That’s what the Tigers did, this time on a powerful run by Joshua Joseph – he took a toss on Hahnville’s first, and last, play of the possession and ran through two tacklers to get loose for a 42-yard touchdown.
Mandeville regrouped and drove deep into Tiger territory on Brendan Scardino’s long catch from Deroches, ultimately tying the game on a 32-yard field goal.
Hahnville drove down and faced a 4th and 1 just outside the Mandeville redzone area. This time, a Joseph run failed to gain the yardage needed, and the Skippers had a chance to win in regulation with 2:17 left.
“I thought we were a little out of our field goal range,” said Luquet. “We’d run the football well all night, we just came up short there with a chance to put it away.”
Mandeville drove into HHS territory and a Desroches throw to Donovan McGowan was completed down at the HHS 23 for a first down. Mandeville ran the field goal team on and attempted to get a game-winning kick off before time expired, but could not beat the clock.
Hahnville’s first touchdown of the night came in the first quarter when Calvin Smith scored from the “Beast,” making it 7-0 with 35 seconds left.
Sheppard surged through the defense on an inside zone run and scored to make it 7-6, with the extra point sailing no good.
Dakota Williams rushed for a big gain on a reverse to set up a Joseph touchdown that made it 14-6 with 3:10 remaining before halftime – and igniting a wild end of half sequence.
Desroches found Sheppard for a 55-yard screen pass that resulted in a touchdown, making it 14-13 with 1:52 left.
Gregson completed long gains to Dakota Williams and Josh Smith on Hahnville’s next drive, and along with a long Calvin Smith run those plays set up the quarterback’s own rush for a score to make it 21-13.
Sheppard caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Desroches with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 21-19 at halftime – in all, four touchdowns were scored by the two teams in less than three minutes of game action.
“We tried to establish the run early,” Luquet said. “(Gregson) did a phenomenal job. He used his legs more than in the past. All of our best players ran it. We threw it. I was proud of way we came back and figured it out. This is a young team that’s growing up before our eyes.”