THE POST-SIGNAL / Jason Faul
Notre Dame’s Luke Yuhasz hauls in a pass from quarterback Parker Seilhan for a 78-yard touchdown on the first play of the game Friday during the Pios’ 62-13 victory over the Lake Arthur Tigers.
Notre Dame rides perfect storm to victory at Lake Arthur
We are a couple of weeks removed from Halloween and this game was not intended to be a sequel to last week’s turnover filled win. But Friday night was every bit the unexpected in what ultimately became a nightmare in Lake Arthur for the homestanding Tigers.
Notre Dame forced five first half fumbles, set up scores by recovering four of the loose balls and playing on a short field, and converted those opportunities into 41 first quarter points. The Pios only needed nine minutes of first half possession time to outgain Lake Arthur 268 to 66 yards. The Pios defense made the task a lot easier for Head Coach Lewis Cook and his offense.
“You have to give our defense a lot of credit for the quick start. They again came up with a lot of turnovers, finding ways to get on the ball. It was nice to get the lead, but I would have liked it to come a little slower to get our guys a little more time on the field. That is just the way it is sometimes.”
Most games, the Pios starters do not make it past the half. On this night, they did not make it past the first quarter. The clean jerseys went on to add three more scores while answering two late Lake Arthur touchdowns for a 62-13 Notre Dame win.
“When we got to 30, we started working in the other guys,” adds Cook. “We were handing the ball off and letting those guys get a chance on the field. I hate looking up at the board and seeing 60 points, but those kids that were in there work hard every day at practice also and we got the chance to get everybody in the game, It felt really good to look over and see our older guys hugging those young players and getting fired up for them coming off the field.”
The Pios struck like lightning on the first play of the game. Quarterback Parker Seilhan got lock out protection from his offensive line and launched a rainbow deep down the middle some 40 yards plus in the air that Luke Yuhasz took down at full speed behind his coverage to complete a 78-yard touchdown. Lucas Simon added the extra point for a 7-0 lead just 17 seconds into the game.
“The pass by Parker was right on the money,” Cook commented. “Luke caught it in stride and they couldn’t catch him. He can really get out there and get open. We just have one week left and it is good to see that execution. Hopefully, we are getting where we need to be.”
Two plays later, Lake Arthur fumbled the handoff and Caleb Comeaux was there to recover and put the Pios back in business at the Lake Arthur 22. Junior Lucas Simon started for injured Dom Thibodeaux and sparked the scoring drive with a couple of seven yard runs inside.
“If it has been a game with consequences, Dom would have played,” explained Cook. “He has had a little nagging injury and it just was not worth it to take a chance. We held him to get healthy for what is left. Lucas Simon has given us a little different look in there and Thomas Meche made a nice run also. Those two guys are juniors and we’ll be glad to have them back.”
Simon gave Cook and the Pios what they were looking for on fourth and goal at the Tigers three. Sweeping right from the power I formation, Gabe Leonards and Ethan Menard leading the way with blocks on the edge and at the goal line, Simon patiently followed his teammates for the score. Simon then kicked the PAT to make it 14-0 Pios.
Notre Dame used defensive stops by Nick Gautreaux, Lance Castille and Alex Stevens to force a three and out punt. The Pios offense was perhaps the sharpest we have seen this season and with a 63-yard drive in four plays extended the lead.
Seilhan connected with Blake Smith for 20 yards on a seam route down the left hash marks. Simon powered for 10 yards and another first down. Seilhan then threw over the middle to Zach Lamm on a crossing route and he turned up the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown catch to make it 20-0.
“We wanted to come out and get some throws in early to work on the passing game and Parker looked good doing it,” added Cook. “The blocking was there and defensively the guys were flying around as they always have. For the little time they got in there I thought they executed well.”
Lake Arthur showed a brief flicker of offense that was quickly expelled by the Pios defense. After Tiger Carter Bihm ran his team out of trouble with carries of nine and six yards for a first down at the Lake Arthur 26, Lance Castille and Karson Broussard combined to stand up tailback Blye Daniels for no gain. Comeaux and Wesley Maze chased down the Tigers QB after a gain of just two and Castille pressured the QB into an incomplete pass on third down.
Notre Dame took over at the Tigers 47-yard line and needed less than a minute to change the scoreboard numbers. Ethan Menard, who has been called on the help at multiple positions this season, checked into the backfield. Menard slashed off the left side spinning a full turn away from a tackler and broke away from a second defender to gain 18-yards on first down.
Meche took the ball on the next play and circled around the edge for an explosive 29-yard scoring run that was called back for holding. On the next play, wide receiver Christian McNees took an end around to the right side and cut inside a crushing block by offensive lineman William Vice who had pulled to lead the play. Turning up field, McNees patiently settled in behind Menard blocking down field and followed his teammate to the end zone for a 26-yard TD run. Simon kicked the PAT for a 27-0 ND advantage with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
“That was nice to watch him wait for the blockers to make the play,” smiled Cook in talking of the play. “Chris is another very good player and he gives us two guys with some size out there catching passes.”
Two plays into the next Lake Arthur possession, Luke Hoffpauir plowed through the Tiger defense to sack QB Tyler Breaux and force a fumble. Alex Stevens picked up the loose ball and ran it back 20 yards for another Pios touchdown. Cameron Fuselier added the point after increasing the ND lead to 34-0.
Notre Dame was back on offense the next play after the ensuing kickoff. Lake Arthur fumbled for the fourth time in the first half, all recovered by the Pios, and ND had it back at the Tigers two-yard line with 1:18 to left on the clock.
Nicholas Swacker came in at quarterback and passed over the middle to Menard for a 20-yard scoring pass. Cameron Fuselier added the point after for a 41-0 Pios halftime lead.
The second half started like another bad dream for Lake Arthur. The Tigers could not dent the Pios defense for a first down and punted to the Notre Dame 21-yard line. On first down, Meche took a handoff on the left side, avoided a couple of tacklers, and outraced the defense for a 79-yard touchdown. Fusilier added the PAT to make the Pios lead 55-0.
Lake Arthur got on the board with a 43-yard TD run from runningback Blye Daniels to make it 55-7. Pios junior Austin Doucet returned the Tiger kickoff 46 yards to the Lake Arthur 34. Four plays later, junior Brayden Broussard ran 23 yards to make it four scores on consecutive possessions for the final 62-13 score.
Notre Dame was to finish the season hosting Port Barre, but the Red Devils had to end their season. The Pios will travel to play Eunice next Friday to close the regular season.