Hahnville is headed to the state quarterfinals after earning a dramatic 23-21 victory at Ruston Friday night.
Thomas Rasco’s field goal with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter proved the game-winner for the Tigers, who survived two Ruston field goal attempts in the final minute from 45 and 55 yards that each missed the mark. Anthony “Pooka” Williams scored three touchdowns, bringing his total touchdown tally to eight through two playoff weeks.
“This is why you play high school football, and this is why you coach high school football. It really is,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “Our prayer service was about faith. Faith isn’t always an easy road. There are a lot of hurdles, and you have to keep having faith, keep believing in what you’re doing. And our kids did.
“They really just played an exceptional football game against an exceptional football team in a historic stadium. It’s the way a playoff game should be played between two Louisiana football powers. And we were able to earn the victory.”
The win is Hahnville’s ninth straight. The 10th seeded Tigers (10-2) will host No. 2 Covington in next week’s quarterfinal round.
Hahnville had missed an extra point and had a field goal blocked prior to Rasco’s 25-yard game-winner. Despite that, Saltaformaggio said when the time came for Rasco to deliver in a clutch situation, he was more than ready.
“Thomas went in and drilled it,” Saltaformaggio said. “We had a sophomore snapping it to him. It was great … unbelievable.”
Late in the fourth quarter, it was anyone’s game.
Backed up on its own 1-yard line, Hahnville called on Dalton Melancon to punt the ball to Ruston (8-3) with less than three minutes left. Melancon boomed a good kick into the wind, but Ruston nonetheless took over in Hahnville territory. Hahnville held Ruston on a third and four play at the HHS 28, forcing a field goal try that missed with 55 seconds left.
But Ruston had time outs remaining and Hahnville wasn’t able to put things away with a first down. Ruston quickly drove into HHS territory again, and a key defensive play by Logan Robert – in just his second game back after injuring his knee earlier in the season – made a tackle inbounds with time winding down to force Ruston to stop the clock, not allowing it to attempt to gain more yardage for a shorter kick.
It was another huge game for Williams, who lined up as Wildcat quarterback for stretches of the game to give the offense a spark.
Ruston led 14-13 at halftime.