Second half surge carries Pios past Iowa

CROWLEY – Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook never bought into the Iowa schedule as a reason for their 6-0 start. Iowa passed the test Friday night even though the Yellow Jackets came up short on the scoreboard.

“You don’t put 60 or 70 points on people if you are not a good solid football team,” stated Cook after his team took control in the second half to remain unbeaten in district 4-3A. “I looked at more film this week than I have any other week. A lot of the guys we went against were there last year with a lot of seniors in their defense. They play a freaky defense and I knew that would cause us some problems. We haven’t seen that in a long time so it was a new defense to us. It’s nice to get this one for a win.”

Luke Broussard ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns as Notre Dame knocked off the unbeaten Yellow Jackets, 28-13. If there was a down side to the win, it was the seven penalties for 81 yards against Notre Dame.

“That’s the most disappointing thing about the game,” admits Cook. “We had three or four really stupid penalties. I can live with the holding, but the personal fouls, we have to change that and be smarter or it will get us before long.”

The first quarter was a battle of punters and a game of field position. The defensive standoff didn’t last long into the second period when the two teams each scored twice over a four and a half minute span,

Dustin Reiners rolled a 58 yard punt to the Iowa 32 and defensive tackle Chad Gibson made consecutive stops to force the Jackets to kick it back. The Pios passed on great starting position at their 40 for a holding penalty and a re-kick.

“I was hoping it would give us a chance to improve our field position,” noted Cook. “If he nails the punt we get backed up again, but that was one call that worked out for us.”

The gamble paid off when Brandon Leger returned the punt 18 yards to the Iowa 34 and the track meet was on. Luke Broussard rammed off left tackle and found a seam for a 34 yard touchdown run. Dustin Reiners kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Pios lead two minutes into the second quarter.

Iowa countered with an 80 yard drive to tie the score. Tailback Jordan Malbreaux burst off the left side for a 52 yard run down the Pios sideline. Clint Faul chased down the Jacket tailback to stop the score at the ND 28.

Four plays later Iowa had second and goal at the Notre Dame five and Quarterback Austin Theriot bootlegged left for a 5-yard TD run to tie it at seven with 7:57 on the clock.

“We knew they had a little firepower on offense with the quarterback and their running backs,” added Cook. “We hurt ourselves with some penalties, but their kids played really hard and stayed in there toe to toe with us.”

On the next possession, Brad Stoma hooked up with Nick Benoit down the right sideline for 53 yards to the Jackets one. Luke Broussard took it in to cap the five-play, 69-yard drive, for a 14-7 Pios lead.

On first down following the ensuing kickoff, sophomore running back Chaz Key turned the corner behind a wall of Iowa blockers and sprinted 80 yards to pay dirt. Pio Matt Venable blocked the extra point and Notre Dame took a 14-13 lead into halftime.

“We got punched in the face a couple of times in the first half, but I’m awfully proud of our guys. They kept fighting and we came back and found some things that helped us, made a few big plays in the second half and it ended up being the difference in the game.”

The game returned to a defensive struggle in the third quarter until Notre Dame marched 74 yards over the last five minutes of the quarter.

Sophomore tailback John Michael Besse carried six times on the 13-play drive and had a third down reception to keep the scoring series going. Sophomore QB Brad Stoma completed 8-of-16 passes for 124 yards on the night. On third and 11 from the Pios 40, Stoma hit Besse flaring out of the backfield and he broke a tackle picking up 15 yards for a first down.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, facing third and seven at the Iowa 15, Stoma faked right and came back to Ross Cullen for a back screen. The senior fullback rambled into the end zone for a 21-13 Pios lead.

“They only put three guys up front and were determined not to let us get outside, but those three guys were huge and took a lot of space. We didn’t make any real changes, just settled on some formations to get matchups and I told Brad (Stoma) he was going to have to make some plays in the passing game.”

Notre Dame forced Iowa to a three and out on the next possession. Gavin Bourgeois came up from his safety position to drop Jacket tailback Chaz Key for a loss on third and four and Notre Dame took over at the Pios 31 after a punt.

Luke Broussard carried four times for 15 yards and Brad Stoma completed a third down pass to Cullen for eight yards and first at the Jackets 38. After a penalty and three more Broussard carries, Nick Benoit took a fourth down end around six yards for a first down at the Iowa 28.

“It was just a little flanker reverse from a two tight end formation,” explains Cook. “We pulled the tackle and Nick came around, got a good block and that’s what gave him the chance to bounce and turn it on.”

Broussard gained two on first down and on his carry number 30 of the night, slipped through the middle for a 26 yard touchdown to seal the win. Broussard went over a hundred yards rushing for the fifth straight game.

“Brousse has to carry the load a little more with Austin (Thibodeaux) out of there,” Cook said. “It makes a huge difference for us and in this kind of game, we had to give him a little break with John Michael Besse in there and he made some nice plays. He’s a sophomore and in the last quarter we felt we needed that experience in there, went back to Luke (Broussard) and he’s really tough.”

Iowa moved to midfield on the next possession with four minutes to play. Any hope of a late comeback was extinguished when Sam Veillon intercepted to put the icing on another top notch second half performance by the Pios defense.

Notre Dame limited Iowa to just 64 second half yards and one first down. Tackles Chad Gibson (6 tackles) and Sammie Graf (5) stuffed the middle and each added a sack and tackle for a loss. Linebackers Matt Venable (10), Kipp Credeur (9) and Hunter Stelly (8) were involved in stops on over half the Iowa plays and the secondary of Clint Faul, Hogan Guidry, Gavin Bourgeois and Sam Veillon allowed just 16 yards on 4 completions and combined for 13 tackles.

“I expect next week at Westlake will be just like this,” summed up Cook. “We have to go there to play and they have a good football team. There are no breathers in this district. We will continue to fight each game and we’ll find out how tough we are because it’s going to be another battle next week.”

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