Behind Anthony Williams’ third straight 300-plus yard rushing night, No. 10 Hahnville surged past No. 2 Covington 38-27 in the Class 5A quarterfinals Friday night.
Hahnville (11-2) will travel to face No. 3 Acadiana in the semifinal round next week. Acadiana defeated Live Oak Friday, 17-14, to advance.
Williams finished with 353 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns, both of those scores coming in the fourth quarter to extend Hahnville's lead from 24-21 to 38-21.
Covington (12-1) entered the game undefeated, but has now been eliminated by Hahnville in back to back seasons.
“When you look at (Devin) Brumfield, (Joshua) Alfaro and their offensive line, they really challenge you,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “It really took a team effort for us to win tonight, but Anthony is special. We're happy to still be playing. We're heading into December and Hahnville should still be playing football.”
Saltaformaggio said his team will embrace the challenge of facing a powerful Acadiana team.
“We'll have our hands full, but they'll have their hands full, too,” he said.
The game brought a massive crowd to Hahnville, which added bleachers for extra seating and had many more people standing in attendance. Billed as a matchup of the area's two leading rushers in Williams and Devin Brumfield, it lived up to the hype.
Hahnville led 17-13 after Covington scored on the final play of the third quarter on a 28-yard Brumfield run. Hunter LeBlanc blocked the extra point attempt.
Brandon Johnson sparked Hahnville to start the fourth quarter when he returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards down to the Covington 19 yard line. Jha'Quan Jackson capped a four-play drive with a 1-yard sneak for a score – his third rushing touchdown of the night – to push Hahnville back ahead by 11, 24-13.
But Covington answered via its own explosive special teams play when Mason Cialona brought back the next kickoff 50 yards to Hahnville's 30. A fourth and 4 conversion from Joshua Alfaro to Elgin Bell highlighted the drive, which was capped by Brumfield on a 2-yard plunge. After converting a two-pointer, Covington cut Hahnville's lead to 24-21.
With just over six minutes left, Hahnville got the ball back and the game plan was simple: turn the keys over to Williams and a dominant offensive line. All five plays were runs by Williams, of 7, 10, 9, 1 and 39 yards, the last a touchdown dash that pushed Hahnville ahead 31-21 with 3:39 left.
“I learned a long time ago, in games like this, you go with your best play and your best player,” Saltaformaggio said. “Anthony's our best player. Our best play is power. We brought a tackle over and blocked down … it was a physical night against a physical team.”
Said Williams, “We knew if they got it back, they could have scored or kicked a field goal. We just put them away on that drive.”
LeBlanc intercepted Alfaro on the next drive, and Williams added one more touchdown run to slam the door on the Lions.
It was the 10th consecutive victory for Hahnville, which advances to the state semifinals for the first time since 2003.
Williams has topped 300 rushing yards in each of Hahnville's playoff games, also including wins over Denham Springs and Ruston. He has scored 10 touchdowns over those three games.
He topped the 300 yard barrier Friday despite two long runs being negated by holding penalties in the first half.
“It means so much to make it in my senior year,” Williams said. “This is the first time we've been this far … Jha'Quan took a lot of pressure off my back with those (touchdown) runs. Our offensive line deserves a ton of credit. And our defense stepped up to get stops when we needed it. We played as a team tonight.”