Defense leads Pios to shutout victory over Breaux Bridge

BREAUX BRIDGE – Coaches will often insist that while offense may score the points it is defense that wins games. You would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to argue that at the Notre Dame game in Breaux Bridge Friday night.

 Both offenses were held out of the end zone, but the Pios were a little bit better on defense in pitching a shutout. Notre Dame junior kicker Dustin Reiners split the uprights on a 20 yard field goal with 2:36 left on the clock for a 3-0 Pios win.

“It’s just nice to get a win because we had a pretty rough week,” Coach Lewis Cook commented after the game. “We had two defensive backs sitting this one out, we had or two top runningbacks on the sideline trying to get them healthy and then we have one of our starting offensive linemen go down in practice. We were asking some guys to learn new positions and there wasn’t much cohesiveness all week in practice.”

Well, that didn’t seem to affect the Pios defense. Breaux Bridge was held to 149 yards of total offense, possessed the ball for less than a third of the game clock, and saw its running game shut down to the point of abandoning it with 52 yards on 22 carries.

“Every Monday when the coaches meet to plan, we ask what is going to be the key for us,” continued Cook. “Everyone says stop the run coach. Fortunately, we were able to do that and it is really nice to be able to come in to Breaux Bridge and get the win against this ball club.”

Tigers senior quarterback Lane Landry went to the air 26 times with just 8 completions and was intercepted twice. The talk this week was of revenge after the Pios rallied to win last year with a late score and forcing Landry to throw four straight incompletions. This time around, Reiners booted the game winner and the Pios defense again pressured Landry into four straight errant passes to seal the win.

“If we can keep doing that, we have a chance,” laughed Cook. “Our defense was all over them and played a great game. Coach Mac (defensive coordinator James McCleary) designed some things a little differently and they paid off. We were able to keep pressure on the quarterback and by taking away the running game, making them one dimensional, it makes it a lot easier to defend.”

Notre Dame had a first quarter drive halted after 11 plays and seven minutes. Brad Stoma completed four short passes on the only real scoring threat of the first three quarters, but the offensive changes and the Tigers defensive tactics gave the running game fits.

“The big thing is the experience of being in a game,” explained Cook. “We had backs kind of feeling their way out there. A couple of times they maybe could have bounced outside and had big plays and it didn’t happen. That will come with experience. I take my hat off to those guys, though, because the effort was outstanding.”

Breaux Bridge had its only scoring threat of the first half taking over with 2:56 on the clock. QB Landry scrambled for 16 yards and completed a fourth down pass to the Pios twenty yard line. Two plays later, Kade Smith sacked Landry as time ran out for the half.

“We wanted to keep Landry contained because when he gets on the outside he is tough to stop,” added Pios coach Cook. “We made sure we had the outside secure, and we came with pressure up the middle that was able to get to him quick. Our defensive front played a heck of a game.”

Senior safety Gavin Bourgeois intercepted a pass two plays into the second half. The Pios offense came up empty when the Tigers held on fourth and five from the 21 yard line.

On the next ND possession, Stoma connected with Kevin Frank for 21 yards over the top of the Tigers secondary. A fourth down completion to tight end Conner Benoit came up two yards short when Stoma was pressured to throw early.

With eight minutes to play, Tiger QB Landry hit tight end Demontreal Babineaux for 28 yards to the Pios 37. On the next play, Landry went for the kill down the middle to Babineaux and Gavin Bourgeois intercepted at the Pios three and returned 32 yards.

“We were playing two and I came from the backside,” explained Bourgeois. “I read the quarterback and he was locked on number 34 (Babineaux). The ball was in the air long enough for me to get over and make the play.”

Damon Comeaux burst for 13 yards on first down and Joe Faulk picked up six two plays later. With the running game finally having success, QB Brad Stoma found his tight end, Conner Benoit, for 17 yards. Faulk gained 16 to the Tigers 21 and runs by Jeff Daigle and James Kratzer earned another first down at the BB 11.

“Their plan was good and made our running game a little tougher to get going,” Cook conceded. “We had to mix a few throws in and we made some big plays when we had to make them. We finally got it going on that last drive.”

With fourth down at the Breaux Bridge three, Cook took no chances and sent in Dustin Reiners with the field goal unit. The junior calmly converted the game winner.

“I just went in there and did what I do in practice every day which is keep my head down and swing through the ball,” Reiners explained. “They weren’t trying to do anything to distract me, but you can’t pay attention to that even if they were. You just concentrate on what you have to do to get it up and through the uprights.”

 After the four Breaux Bridge incompletions aided by pressure from Nate Link and Conner Kirsch on both first and fourth downs, Notre Dame needed one first down to run out the clock. On third and eleven, Jeff Daigle found room on the outside for 10 yards and Brad Stoma followed center Conner Arceneaux for the clinching first down.

 One tough test is followed by another as the Pios host rival Teurlings next Friday.

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