Notre Dame runs past Teurlings

CROWLEY – If it works, why change it?

Notre Dame rushed 66 times for 359 yards and quarterback Brad Stoma engineered three 80-yard scoring drives as the Pios outlasted Teurlings, 35-21, Friday at Gardiner Stadium. Stoma capped four scoring drives with touchdown runs and John Michael Besse rushed for 159 yards and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Stoma.

For Pios coach Lewis Cook, anytime his team is on the up side of the scoreboard against Teurlings, it’s been a good night.

“They always have a good football team and they make you work hard for everything you get. We may have helped them a bit with our turnovers and penalties, and we gave them an easy one on the blocked punt. I know our kids are excited to put this one in the win column.” 

Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 13 plays. Besse logged a 22-yard run on third down to keep the possession alive and Stoma had pass completions of 9 yards to tight end Conner Benoit and 12 yards to Kevin Frank. On fourth down at the Rebels 15, Stoma optioned for 14 yards to the one and took it in on a sneak the next snap for a 7-0 lead.

Teurlings went three and out and Gavin Bourgeois returned the punt 49 yards. A personal foul moved the ball back to the Rebels 39 and Lance Bertrand carried four times for 24 yards for a first down at the five. Two plays later Stoma scored from a yard out to make it 14-0.

Teurlings answered with a 16 play, 77 yard scoring march to cut into the lead. Zach Lafleur scored from one yard to make it 14-7 Pios.

On the next possession, Cook watched the snap sail over the head of punter Dustin Reiners and hand Teurlings a gift at the Pios 16 yard line. Rebels quarterback Brye Latiolais went for the score on first down with a fade route into the end zone, but Pios cornerback Rankin Bihm leaped high and with one hand intercepted the pass.

“That interception after we had turned it over was probably the play of the game for us. They could have tied it there and things could have been a lot different, but Rankin made a big play for us.”

 John Michal Besse got the offense rolling with runs of 5 and 8 yards. Brad Stoma kept around the edge for 21 yards and Lance Bertrand powered for 13 and 7 yards. From the Teurlings 12, Stoma connected with Besse on a pass in the flats and the junior sidestepped one defender and ran over another at the goal line to make it 21-7.

The Rebels pieced together a half ending drive assisted by Notre Dame penalties on three straight plays. Tackles Conner Kirsch and Curt Pettitjean teamed for a QB sack to put the Rebels in a long yardage situation. Kirsch had nine tackles including three sacks in the game. Nate Link added a sack on the possession and finished the night with tackles and 2 sacks with 2 QB hurries. Gavin Bourgeois slapped away a fourth and one pass to preserve the halftime lead.

“That was a gutsy stand by our defense,” said Coach Cook. “They were getting the ball to start the second half and would have had a chance to tie it to start the third quarter.”

Instead, Rebels coach Sonny Charpentier elected to fake punt at the Teurlings 37. The Pios were not fooled and Sam Veillon dropped the ball carrier for a 12 yard loss.

After runs by Besse and Jeff Daigle neted a first a goal, Brad Stoma optioned right and went in untouched from 10 yards for his third TD of the night. Dustin Reiners added another of his five extra points for a 28-7 lead.

“Brad is doing a great job of managing the game,” added Cook. “He is not selfish. He takes it when he has to and he gives it off when it’s there. He made some nice throws when we asked him to and is a big weapon for our offense.”

Anyone who has been to a game between these two teams knows there is no quit in either and Teurlings got back into the game with a blocked punt off another high snap. Rebel Willie Smith picked up the ball at the Pios 20 and ran it in to make it 28-14.

The Pios appeared on the verge of a clinching score, driving 67 yards with four minutes left in the third quarter. Stoma scrambled 17 yards inside the Teurlings twenty and had the ball stripped.

“Brad was trying to get that extra yard,” explained Cook. “He’s trying to go one way and the defense is pulling another direction. You have to learn to just go down. The same thing happened with Besse. He was stretching for that extra yard and they put a helmet on the ball to knock it out.”

Teurlings responded by putting a touchdown on the board. QB Latiolais caught the PIos in man coverage with the safeties up and connected with Grant Lagrange for an 81 yard TD pass on a post pattern into an open secondary for a 28-21 Pios lead.

With 8:23 to play, the Pios went to work from the 20 following a kickoff touchback. John Michael Besse started things off by breaking loose for 34 yards down the Notre Dame sideline.

“I told Coach Lew we needed a big play after the kickoff,” laughed coach Cook. “Besse popped it out of there with a nice run and on the headset I hear Lew say like that, and I said yea, just like that.”

 Six plays later on fourth down and four, Stoma gained nine yards. Four plays after that, Stoma kept for just enough on fourth and three for a first down at the Teurlings ten.

“Early in the game we were optioning, but toward the end it was designed for me to keep and run the ball,” explained Stoma. “We ran a lot of play action and our backs did a great job of acting like they had the ball and fooling the defense. I can’t say enough about our offensive line. They controlled the front all night.”

When he did hand off, Stoma mixed it up with Besse, Bertrand and Shea Zaunbracher. Those four had the only hands to touch the ball on a third 80 yard drive that lasted over seven minutes with 15 snaps. Stoma capped the scoring with a one yard sneak on fourth down.

“I’m real proud of the way our kids handled that last drive,” added Cook. “They get within a score and we don’t panic. We just come right back down the field.”

 The Pios defense sealed the deal with 24 seconds remaining. Hunter Stelly, who led the defense with 10 tackles, forced a fumble after a Teurlings completion into Pios territory.

“That was pretty heads up on his part and a heck of a play,” Cook added. “He went for the interception and the pass went over him. He never gave up on it, came back around and punched it out of the receiver to force the turnover. I like the direction we are headed.”

The Pios head to Lake Charles next week to take on St. Louis. The game will be played at the LaGrange High Stadium.

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