Pios overcome big plays for jamboree victory
LAFAYETTE – The need to play against someone other than themselves may have made the Notre Dame Pios a little anxious Thursday night at the Kiwanis Jamboree. The start against Cecilia in the 62nd Annual event at UL’s Cajun field most certainly had fans a lot anxious.
Cecilia twice put the Pios on the short end of the scoreboard, converting a turnover and a missed assignment on defense for a 12-7 lead midway through the first half. But the Bulldogs never slowed down the Notre Dame offense and in the end, the Pios won it, 21-12.
“Our intensity was pretty good and as far as execution, we just had the one turnover on special teams,” noted Pios Coach Lewis Cook. “We had very few penalties, which is something early in the year like this you want to see where you are with that. Our kickoff returns were good, but we didn’t get to work on punts. Overall, I was pleased with our effort.”
Notre Dame had Cecilia pinned inside the fifteen on the first possession. Michael Bourgeois and Hunter Stelly teamed to drop Cecilia running back Raymond Calais for a five yard loss at the ten and force a punt that was muffed and recovered by the Bulldogs at the Notre Dame 38.
Sophomore quarterback Landon Roberts hit Calais with a swing pass and the speedster turned it down the sideline for a 38-yard TD. The extra point failed for a 6-0 Cecilia lead.
“The defense went out and did their job and we get a mistake with the muffed punt and they score with a big pass play,” explained Pios coach Lewis Cook. “The thing I liked, though, was that we responded and came right back with a score.”
Notre Dame unveiled its shotgun passing attack with Brad Stoma completing three passes and John Michael Besse carrying the ball four times on a 7 play, 59 yard drive. Besse scored from five yards out, sweeping left around the defense.
The 7-6 lead didn’t last long as Bulldog sophomore Calais burst through a pulled up Pios defense and ran 70 yards on the next play. A standout on the track, Calais was ran in four sprint events for Cecilia at the state outdoor meet last season including a second place in the 200 meter dash, and is not one to be chased down in the open field. A failed 2-point conversion attempt left Cecilia with a 12-7 lead.
“We had three key starters that we held out of the game,” added Cook. “We rotated two sophomores in at safety, we have an outside linebacker that is playing for the first time and we had a defensive tackle that has been pretty dominating up front for us not in the lineup. They break that long run against us, but the offense responds again.”
Notre Dame marched 80 yards in 12 plays to take the lead just before the half. Jeff Daigle got things going with a 14-yard run on first down. QB Brad Stoma, who would complete 9-of-11 passes for 95 yards in the “half” game, connected on three consecutive plays to Besse lined up wide and in the slot.
Daigle gained ten straight up the middle and Besse caught a fourth Stoma pass for 20 yards. On third and goal from the 14, Stoma rolled left and cut back against the defense for the score with 23 seconds left in the half to put the Pios ahead for good, 14-12.
“To finish the half with a score and get another to start the next half was big for us,” said Cook. “That goes a long way in helping you get the lead and stay ahead in the game.”
In characteristic form, Notre Dame took the second half kickoff and used took four minutes off the clock with a 10 play drive covering 59 yards. Sophomore Jordan Bertrand covered the final two yards and Dustin Reiners booted his third extra point to make it 21-12.
“I felt our cohesiveness would be a little lacking with those guys out on defense, summed up Cook. “You don’t want to give up scores, but this is the time to do it, so you can find out where you are, learn from it and do what you have to in order to correct it.”
Notre Dame totaled 143 yards rushing and 95 yards through the air. The Pios defense was a lot more solid than the score would indicate, allowing just 119 total yards. Even with the 70-yard TD run, Cecilia netted just 68 yards on the ground, aided by a Nate Link sack and a tackle for loss by Hunter Stelly.
Notre Dame opens the regular season next week with a Thursday night game on home turf. The Pios will square off for the first time ever against 2012 4A quarterfinalist LaGrange of Lake Charles.