Notre Dame cruises past Erath on Senior Night

Notre Dame's Lance Bertrand races towards the end zone Thursday during the Pios' 42-7 victory over Erath at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.

CROWLEY – Recovering an onside kick to start the game, taking a chance with a passing attack and selling out on defense to stop the run failed to provide any answers for Erath last Friday night. Notre Dame scored on its first six possessions to remain unbeaten in District and on the season with a 42-7 win over the Bobcats.
“What’s tough is they come in probably knowing they are outmanned and they take a lot of risks,” said Pios coach Lewis Cook. “They gamble and run people in on you from all over and you don’t know where they are going to come from sometimes. That’s why I was a little worried about our execution.”
There certainly wasn’t any question about the first quarter execution. Nate Link knocked down a pass on the game’s first play, Hunter Stelly dropped the Bobcats for a four yard loss on second down and Curt Pettijean pressured Erath QB Ty Bares for a third down pass that Stelly knocked away to force a punt.
“We had a little bounce in our step that I haven’t seen the last couple of weeks,” added Cook. “The defense was really running to the ball and looked quick and that was nice to see.”
From the Pios 21 yard line, quarterback Brad Stoma and runningback John Michael Besse engineered a 19 play scoring drive that consumed seven minutes and fifty-three seconds off the clock.
Stoma completed passes of 13 yards to Kevin Frank and 18 yards to Besse for a first down at the Pios 42. Besse picked up 26 yards on five straight runs to the Bobcat 32.
Stoma found Jeff Daigle for a 12 yard completion and a first down at the Erath nine. On fourth and goal at the two after three tries up the middle by Besse, Stoma faked it there and outran the defense around the left side for a touchdown.
“We were backed up to the ten yard line when Stoma hit Kevin Frank after the penalty on that first drive,” explained Cook. “When you can run that many plays and not have something bad take the drive away, that tells me we are executing.”
The Pios forced another punt and took over near midfield. Stoma scrambled for 25 yards on first down to the Erath 26. On fourth and two at the ten, Lance Bertrand powered into the end zone with 10:35 left in the half to make it 14-0.
Stoma took the Pios 48 yards in 6 plays on the next possession, completing passes of 9 and 13 yards to Kyle Habetz. Besse scored from two yards out and Dutin Reiners hadded his third extra point for a 21-0 lead.
“You know going into a game that you have a chance, especially if the other team is struggling a bit,” said Cook. “You still have to execute the things you have planned against that team and our guys did that.”
Erath was punting again after three plays and no yards against the Pios defense. Nate Link and Mathew Hanks teamed to stop QB Bares for a four yard loss on first down. After an incompletion, Kade Smith, Hunter Stelly and Hanks converged on freshman runningback Elijah Mitchell to force the kick which rolled dead at the 38 yard line. Selly and Hanks led the Pios with six tackles each.
Brad Stoma had the Pios in the end zone less than a minute later with three straight pass completions. The junior QB hit John Michael Besse for 17 yards and Royce Zaunbrecher hauled in a 15 yard catch to the Erath six.
Zaunbrecher ran the same quick slant the next play and Stoma fired a laser between two defenders. Zaunbrecher laid out for a diving TD catch and Reiners added the PAT for a 28-0 lead.
“I knew Erath would be coached up to play hard against us and that is always cause for concern,” noted Cook. “They brought the outside linebackers up close on occasion and were gambling a bit, trying to take away the run. I said let’s see if we can get a few throws to kind of back them off.”
Stoma completed 8 of 11 first half passes for 103 yards and the Pios offense put up 245 yards of offense. Erath was held to just one pass completion and 34 yards on 23 plays. The Bobcats punted four times and the half ended their other first half possession.
The Pios starters made one final appearance in the third quarter. Their show closed eight plays, 49 yards and just over three minutes later.
Besse ran for 12 yards on first down and led the Pios with 90 yards on 18 carries. Stoma completed a 13 yard pass to Frank for a first down at the Erath 20 and capped the drive with a fourth and goal completion to Besse for a 7 yard touchdown. Reiners booted the extra point for a 35-0 Pios lead.
Erath got on the board after the ensuing kickoff. Speedster Elijah Mitchell turned the corner for an 80 yard Erath touchdown run,
“They got that one play on us after things got a little out of hand,” Cook smiled. “We were a little concerned all week long about Mitchell. He’s a pretty good player, got good speed and just a freshman.”
The Pios reserves answered with a 10 play, 64 yard scoring drive. James Kratzer, Hunter Miller and Ivy Paul Robichaux split the carries with Kratzer getting the bulk on six carries for 38 yards and a three yard TD run.
“The second team put a nice drive together there in the third quarter,” added Cook. “That was really good for those guys and it was nice to see.”
Dustin Reiners remained perfect on the night with his sixth PAT. A scoreless fourth quarter secured the Notre Dame win.
The Pios gained over six yards a play with 391 total yards. The ND defense held Erath to 137 yards of offense and only one third down conversion in nine tries. 

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