Hahnville’s season came to a close Friday night as a physical Ruston squad pulled away in the second half to eliminate the Tigers, 42-17.
The No. 20 seeded Tigers (5-4) played without top rusher Trey LaBranch and leading receiver Troy Kendrick. They were on the road facing a 12 seeded Bears team that rode its own powerful rushing attack to victory.
Ruston’s Ke’Travion Hargrove carried 27 times for 221 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bears. Quarterback Jaden Osborne carried eight times for 102 yards and two scores while completing 9 of 12 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew it would be difficult without Trey and Troy. (LaBranch) we knew would be out, and Troy was a gametime decision,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “I thought we did some good things early … in the second half, we knew what they were. That’s a four-star running back, a 260 pound fullback, and we’re undersized. Our kids played hard.”
Hahnville twice led early. HHS scored the first points of the night on a Tate White field goal to take a 3-0 advantage. Ruston answered, scoring on the ground via a Hargrove touchdown run. Hahnville recaptured the lead on a Cole Villasenor touchdown run to make it 10-7.
But Ruston (7-2) scored three unanswered touchdowns from there to go ahead 28-10, including a rushing score by Hargrove, a 43-yard quarterback keeper by Osborne and a 40-yard pass from Osborne to Deontre Griffin. Hahnville stopped the scoring run via a touchdown pass from Andrew Naquin to Connor Acosta. Hahnville trailed 28-17 at halftime.
“We got that one in the two minute drill and felt like we were really in the football game,” Luquet said.
But Ruston controlled the game, and with it the clock, after halftime. It opened the half with a seven-plus minute drive to score, making it 35-17. It became a trend, as the Bears allowed Hahnville just three second half possessions, forcing two turnovers on those.
Ruston advanced to face Ponchatoula in round two, which defeated St. Amant 24-14 Friday.
Villasenor, starting for LaBranch, carried 14 times for 44 yards with a touchdown. Naquin completed 18 or 37 pass attempts for 153 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while adding 53 yards rushing. Acosta, stepping in for Kendrick, had his season high in receptions and yardage with five catches for 81 yards and a score. Dakota Williams had a splash play with one reception for 40 yards.
Luquet said Ruston was able to tighten up its coverage in the second half, focusing its efforts on slowing wide receiver Corey Lorio, who along with Kendrick represented Hahnville’s top downfield weapons.
“Those guys and Trey were the guys teams set out to take away at different levels,” Luquet said. “Destrehan put Tyler Morton on him in the second half of that game. Ruston bracketed him over the top. We had to work it to other people.
“I told the guys I was proud of them. And the sky is the limit here. Championships are won in the offseason, so we’re getting right back to work.”