THE POST-SIGNAL / Christell Faul
Notre Dame quarterback Parker Seilhan hands off to Dominic Thibodeaux during a recent game. Thibodeaux rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns and Seilhan added seven carries for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns Friday during the Pios’ 35-6 victory over the Kaplan Pirates.
Notre Dame scores convincing win over Kaplan
It doesn’t matter what has happened leading up to the game, when Notre Dame and Kaplan square off you can expect that it will be “white knuckle” time. That was the case for a quarter and a half Friday night as the teams were at a stalemate until Notre Dame kicked it into gear for a convincing 35-6 win in Kaplan.
“We had those extra days after playing last Wednesday, but we didn’t have power at school and didn’t have the weekend to prepare,” explained Coach Lewis Cook. “They threw a few new wrinkles at us and we were inconsistent on offense early on with a dropped pass and a communication error on signals. Once we figured things out and settled down, we were able to keep them in check and get some points on the board.”
After exchanging punts to start the game, Pios defensive tackle Karson Broussard recovered a Pirates fumble at the 21-yard line. On third down at the 16, Dom Thibodeaux took a hand off straight up the middle and ran over a tackler at the 10 then another at the five for a 7-0 lead with the Lucas Simon extra point.
Kaplan answered with a 14-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. The Pirates converted four third downs on the drive that was capped with a two-yard scoring run by Caden Campisi. The Pios led 7-6 after stopping a two-point conversion attempt.
“They were shifting over with their tight end at tackle and once we realized what they were doing we made the adjustments,” noted linebacker Lance Castille who led the Pios’ defense with 17 tackles. “They were trying to out leverage us on the outside and we had to shift our defense to align our strength. Once we talked about it with the coaches, we were able to position ourselves to better defend the edge.”
That wrinkle coupled with the misdirection of the Wing T and the addition of an outside option allowed Kaplan to nibble away on the 75-yard scoring drive. The Pirates finished with 169 yards rushing and 202 yards of total offense. A 55-yard drive on the last possession of the game against the second team defense didn’t leave much good news for Kaplan outside of those two possessions.
“You go in knowing you have to defend the Wing T and they came out with an option play and toss it outside to give us something different than what we have seen from them,” added Cook. “After that one drive, they had trouble keeping anything going against us. Then our second team defense goes out there at the end against their best players and keeps them out of the end zone with a fourth down stop at the six. That was nice for them and nice for us to get a win.”
The Pios also got big games from Wesley Maze with 14 tackles, Nick Gautreaux and Caleb Comeaux with eight each and Luke Hoffpauir with seven. Meanwhile, the Pios offense was rolling to five scores on eight possessions.
Early in the second quarter, Thibodeaux found a gaping hole on the left side when George Herbert sealed the inside and William Vice kicked out the end on a sweep. The senior tailback raced 74-yards for a touchdown to put the Pios up 14-6 . Thibodeaux carried 12 times for 147 yards and three scores to lead the ground attack that totaled 246 yards.
“They were all over the place on defense and it takes you a little time to figure it out,” Coach Cook explained regarding the run game. “They were running a linebacker through the middle, so we wanted to get it outside and work in some throws to get things going.”
QB Parker Seilhan went over the middle to receiver Luke Yuhasz and he broke a tackle for a 47-yard gain with a minute left in the first half. After Seilhan was dropped for a 10-yard loss, the Pios QB scrambled away from pressure on the next play for a 26-yard touchdown run. Simon kicked the PAT for a 21-6 Pios lead at the half.
Notre Dame Coach Lewis Cook didn’t get the score he hoped for after taking the second half kick when a penalty forced a punt at midfield. The Joe Brown punt to the Pirates four looked like a golden scoring opportunity but another Pio penalty aided Kaplan in getting the ball out of trouble.
The Pios got it back by punt and Thibodeaux broke a 15-yard run to get the offense back into Kaplan territory. Seilhan hit Luke Yuhasz for back-to-back short completions that went for 16 and 22 yards. Thibodeaux recorded his third TD of the night with a 7-yard run and a 28-6 ND lead.
“We came out in the second half and they wanted to commit nine guys to stop the run, so we went to a short passing game,” explained Cook. “Luke came to me on the way in at halftime and said they were trying to throw him off at the line of scrimmage. We went to some short routes to try and make one guy make a tackle and they couldn’t do it a couple of times. That gave us some big plays to move it down the field.”
Notre Dame added a fourth quarter score when Kaplan was stopped at their 31-yard line with two big defensive stops. On a third and 11 play, safety Nick Gautreaux came up on a swing pass holding the receiver to a four-yard gain. A fourth down pass then fell incomplete forced by pressure a from Lance Castille and Karson Broussard.
Seilhan got the ball rolling with a 15-yard run on first down. Seilhan hit Zach Lamm for an eight-yard gain and from the Kaplan 18 Seilhan ran a sneak for three yards. From there, Seilhan took it in for his second rushing score of the game with a 15-yard run.
“Some of those runs were not by design but Parker turned them into some nice plays,” Cook said with a laugh. “It’s nice to have those tools in his arsenal.”
Notre Dame returns home next week to host Welsh in the District opener.
It has not been a normal season and this week is not expected to be fully normal either for Coach Lewis Cook and his team.
“It’s on to another week and that means we have another week to work on being a better team. But it is homecoming week, so that in itself makes the week a little different for everyone.”