Crowley outlasts South Beauregard
CROWLEY – Crowley High coach Tommy Tate knew that quarterback Andre Mills had more to offer the Crowley Gents than what he had shown through six games.
Sure, the first-year quarterback had performed well through the first half of the season, putting up respectable numbers and efficiently running the offense.
But Tate was looking for more from his junior signal caller and, Friday, he finally got it.
Mills had the breakout performance Tate had been waiting for, rushing 19 times for 146 yards and five touchdowns while also completing eight passes for 153 yards to help propel the Gents to a 48-28 victory over South Beauregard at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“Andre played a heck of a game,” said Tate following the victory that sent his team to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in District 4-3A play. “He was big tonight. He is growing up at quarterback. He took a couple of sacks that we didn’t want him to at times, but doggoneit, you can’t take away his scrambling ability and his ability to extend the play.
“He’s growing up as a quarterback and he’s getting better.”
Mills displayed his footwork just when Crowley needed it most in the first half. With the score tied at 14-14 and the Gents facing a fourth down at the South Beauregard 24, Mills split the Knights defense for a 12-yard run to the 12.
Then, following a sack, he took the next play himself and broke free for a 19-yard touchdown run before also running in the two-point conversion.
Early in the fourth quarter, Crowley was faced with another crucial fourth down, this time at the Knights’ 29 with the Gents clinging to a 34-28 lead.
Mills struck again, racing down to the 8-yard line for a first down. He hit paydirt on the next play and completed the two-point conversion with another run.
“That was two big fourth-down conversions for us,” said Tate. “He went and got it and that was huge and (the last one) gave us a little breathing room.”
The Gents’ defense also came through in the clutch, holding South Beauregard out of the end zone midway through the first quarter after the Knights drove down to the CHS 3. The Golden Knights were unable to cross the goal line and turned the ball over on downs at the 2.
The Gents also forced the Knights to turn the ball over on downs early in the fourth quarter after they marched down to the 6 yard line.
“The main thing was we held them out on downs a couple of times,” said Tate, whose defense also recovered a fumble and logged an interception on the night. “And we forced a couple of turnovers and that was the key.”
Crowley and South Beauregard played to a 6-6 tie in the first quarter after Mills scored on a 1-yard run and the Knights answered with an 18-yard touchdown run by Joe Ledet.
The Gents regained the lead after forcing the Knights to turn the ball over on downs for the first time. Mills connected on a 32-yard pass to Chanz Moore on the first play before standout running back Davante Bourque (16-175, 3 TD) took the next handoff and scored on a 66-yard run. Bourque added the two point conversion to put the Gents up 14-6.
Crowley’s defense forced South Beauregard to punt on their ensuing possession, but the Gents fumbled the punt and the Knights took over at the CHS 35. From there, it took them just two plays to get into the red zone, before quarterback Zach Brady hit Silas Whalley on a 19-yard scoring strike to cut the lead to tie the game.
Both teams traded interceptions on the following two series with Hunter Fontenot getting the pick for the Knights and Brennan Andrus getting the other for the Gents.
Andrus’ interception led to points, however.
The Gents took over at the SBHS 47 and on third-and-long, Mills broke containment for a 19-yard touchdown run. He again added a two-point conversion and the Gents led 22-14 heading into the half.
The Knights cut the lead to 22-20 on a 13-yard touchdown run to start the second half, but Mills answered with an 8-yard scoring scamper.
On the ensuing kickoff, the CHS squib kick was mishandled, giving the Gents another short field at the SBHS 36. Mills connected with Moore again on a 33-yard pass before Bourque scored from three yards out to push the lead to 34-20.
“It really wasn’t an onside kick,” said Tate. “It was supposed to be a deep squib and he (Mills) topped it beautifully. It had a little bite to it and Brody Deshotel ended up coming with a big recovery.
“That was really huge. And then our offense came up big again and knocked it in there to give us a little breathing room because it really was nip and tuck right there.”
The tension was far from over, however.
The Knights fired right back a little over two minutes later when Walley ran a trap right though the middle and scored from 35 yards out to cut the lead to 34-28.
The Gents finally pulled away in the fourth quarter when Mills scored on an 8-yard run and Bourque hit paydirt from 12 yards out.
Overall, the Gents racked up 501 total yards of offense with 348 of that coming on the ground. They also had 19 first downs.
“The big challenge this week was for us to be a little bit more balanced running and throwing the football. And I think, for the most part, we were,” said Tate. “We made some good throws down the field and we made some good catches. I really think that our offense showed some signs of improvement this week.”
Moore was the Gents’ leading receiver with two catches for 64 yards. Cormier had three receptions for 53 yards; Bourque hauled in two passes for 29 yards and Danny Malbrough had one catch for seven.
South Beauregard piled up 387 total yards of offense. Ledet picked up 140 yards on 31 carries while Whalley had 103 yards on 11 rushes.
Brady competed 14 passes for 122 yards, eight of which went to Whalley for 98 yards and a touchdown.
“Defensively, we just have to keep plugging away,” said Tate, whose team travels to Jennings next Friday for a pivotal league contest with the Bulldogs (1-1 in league play). “We had a few kids out tonight that we have to get healthy. But we knew coming in that they did a great job of running the football and their linemen do a great job up front.
“But it was a total team effort tonight. The kids did a great job; it was win No. 2 and now the big challenge starts.”