Pioneers upend Cecilia 27-15 in Jamboree

Tom Brown ~ LSN STAFF WRITER

LAFAYETTE – Before district realignment sent the schools playing in opposite directions a few years back, Notre Dame and Cecilia gave fans some memorable match ups and usually with a lot on the line

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The Lafayette Kiwanis Jamboree may not have had the same significance, but it offered a flashback to those fans when the teams met in the final game of the two-night event at UL’s Cajun field.

Notre Dame got a two touchdown performance from junior Stu Cook and took a 27-15 win. Cook scored on a 35-yard run to cap the game’s first possession and later hauled in a 13 yard scoring pass from Ryan Leonards. Cook led the Pios with 51 rushing yards and his performance earned the Outstanding Player Award for the Notre Dame team.

“It’s always good to have a dress rehearsal for the season and the jamborees provide that for us,” noted coach Lewis Cook. “It wasn’t real pretty, some moments were good and others were not what we want to see, but we got some of the bugs out. We’ve got a ways to go and we’ll work hard this week.”

The teams displayed early season jitters by exchanging penalties on the first four snaps of the game. Notre Dame settled down and completed a five-play drive to score on their first possession.

Marshall Watson ripped runs of seven and eleven yards around a 15 yard sweep from Stu Cook. After an incomplete pass from the Cecilia 35, the Pios debuted their version of the ever popular “wildcat” formation. Cook lined up in the shotgun and followed blockers around the right side, changing directions three times for the 6-0 lead.

Cecilia quarterback Adrien Noel broke a 25 yard run to midfield where the Pios defense stiffened to force a punt that rolled to the ND five yard line. Three plays later, Notre Dame kicked it back and Cecilia’s Montel Carter returned 20 yards to the Pios 20.

After a one-yard run, Carter, who was named the Cecilia Outstanding player, took a reverse pitch and circled the left side of the defense for the tying score. The extra point put the Bulldogs on top 7-6.

“We got backed up on the second possession and couldn’t get a first down,” continued coach Cook. “They had good field position and caught us for the score on a reverse. We’ve got to do better than that.”

Notre Dame took the next series 75 yards in nine plays. Logan Venable contributed runs of eight and 11 yards, Luke Besse had a six-yard gain, and the Pios had a first down at mid field.

Senior quarterback Ryan Leonards, who had missed on his first four passes, was on target to Morgan Allen for a 15 yard completion. A five yard face mask penalty was tacked on and Besse got three more off tackle.

Leonards found Allen turning out on the left sideline for 21 yards and a first down at the Cecilia five. It didn’t take the Bulldogs very long to use a timeout when Notre Dame broke the huddle with what was obviously an unfamiliar look.

“We were trying to get our better athletes with a little size in there,” smiled Cook as he replayed the play call. “We put Molbert, a defensive end, and a couple of linebackers, Welter and Stover in there for short yardage.”

Tailback Logan Venable followed the trio into the end zone, untouched, from 5 yards out. Notre Dame led 12-7 and would be in control the rest of the way.

Zach Abshire intercepted a Cecilia pass and returned nine yards to the Bulldogs 13-yard line. On the next play Ryan Leonards lofted a perfect strike to Stu Cook on a flag route to the back right corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Leonards hit Zach D’Aquin for the 2-point conversion and a 20-7 lead with 1:39 left in the first half.

The Pios defense shut down Cecilia on three plays to start the second half. The resulting punt and a penalty set up Notre Dame with a first down at the Bulldogs 24 yard line.

The Pios turned to running back Marshall Watson for three straight carries. On first down, Watson gained 12 behind the right side of the line. On second down he burst for 11 yards off left tackle and the offensive line completed the task when Watson got the final yard straight ahead. Stephen Benoit’s extra point made the Pios lead, 27-7.

“It was good to see Marshall get off strong in his senior season,” noted Cook. “You know he’s been fighting that knee since the injury early in his career here. He’s worked hard and it was really good to see him out there running like he did.”

Cecilia added a big play score with just over three minutes left when Noel connected with Spencer Charles for a 51-yard scoring pass. The Bulldogs added a 2-point conversion to cut the Pios lead to 27-15.

“We’re not quite in synch yet defensively,” concluded Cook. “They have some good athletes and they spread you out making it hard to contain with that athleticism. We had some good spots and all in all I think we did a good job.”

An interception by Ricky Stoma with 56 seconds left enabled the Pios to run out the clock for the win.

The Notre Dame defense held Cecilia to 138 total yards, 95 of those coming on just three plays with two of those going for scores.

The Pios rushed for 155 yards and added 65 through the air for 220 yards of total offense. Marshall Watson carried six times for 44 yards and Logan Venable totaled 37 yards on 7 carries to go along with Stu Cook’s 51 yards on the ground.

Ryan Leonards finished with three completions in seven attempts for 65 yards.

The Pios will begin their regular season Fiday at Teurlings.

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