Upon its starting quarterback being ruled eligible just before its Week 10 game, Hahnville instantly became the low-seeded team nobody wanted to play.
The Tigers proved those fears valid on Friday night.
Behind three touchdown passes by Andrew Robison and a suffocating defensive effort, 5A’s No. 22 seed traveled to No. 11 Walker for first round action and dominated play from start to finish en route to a 35-9 victory.
Hahnville will host No. 6 Zachary next week in a rematch of last season’s Class 5A championship game.
Robison completed 9-of-15 passes for 166 yards and rushed for 44 yards. He accounted for four touchdowns, adding a rushing score to his three through the air.
The Tigers (6-5) started the year 1-4, but have now won five of their last six games. While Hahnville was seeded lower than Walker, HHS coach Nick Saltaformaggio never believed his team was gunning for a true upset, and given the circumstances — and outcome — that assessment seems correct.
“I never felt like we were a 22 seed going in, especially now with Andrew back,” Saltaformaggio said. “Our defense has been very good all year, outside of the fourth quarter at Terrebonne … Andrew did what Andrew does. For the first time in a while, we lined up and knocked people off the ball. Our kicking game was really good. This was a total team win … and so we get another week.”
Walker (8-3) tried to jump out early, but a deep pass on the game’s very first play by quarterback Byron Lockhart was intercepted by Tigers defensive back Dynell Williams. Hahnville’s offense made the Wildcats pay, capping the ensuing drive with a Robison touchdown pass to Jha’Quan Jackson from six yards out.
“When they come out and throw their best ball to their best wide receiver, and you not only defend it, but you get a turnover and capitalize on it … that gave us some early confidence and it carried throughout the entire game,” Saltaformaggio said.
Robison and Jackson connected again to answer a Walker field goal, this time for a 49-yard touchdown to make it a 14-3 Hahnville advantage. Jackson finished with five receptions for 99 yards and two scores.
Jerry Spencer hauled in Hahnville’s third scoring pass of the night, this one on an 11-yard pass from Robison. The Tigers led 21-9 at halftime.
Brandon Comardelle broke loose on a 44-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to make it a 28-9 Hahnville lead. Finally, a Robison 1-yard sneak for a score late in the third gave the Tigers’ defense more than enough breathing room to slam the door.
Comardelle finished with 146 yards rushing on 23 carries and seems to be over the hip injury that sidelined him in Week 8 of the regular season.
“He had another really good night for us. He ran really hard,” Saltaformaggio said. “With the passing game we have now, people have to play us with seven in the box instead of nine. It’s a whole different deal now.”
One can bet the Tigers are anxious to welcome defending 5A champion Zachary to Tiger Stadium next week: Zachary turned the Tigers back in last season’s state final, and eliminated Hahnville in the quarterfinal round in 2015.
“We know who’s coming to town,” Saltaformaggio said. “I also know our kids are excited. We should have a giant crowd, and I think most people are going to be very intrigued by this matchup.”