Terrebonne High threatened to put up a lot of points during Friday’s game against E.D. White Catholic during the second game of the TGMC Community Sports Institute High School Football Jamboree in Houma on Friday.
But the Cardinals stood tall in the second half, keeping the Tigers out of the end zone and forcing a 7-7 tie on the brand-new artificial turf surface at Thomas B. Smith Memorial Stadium in Houma.
With the game tied at 7 late in the second half, the Tigers had two drives in the red zone, but the Cardinals defense stepped up on both occasions to keep Terrebonne out of the end zone.
Terrebonne kicker Wyatt Guidry missed a short field goal with 3:15 left to play, and E.D. White defensive back Zach Templet intercepted a pass attempt from Tigers backup quarterback Ryan Williams with 2 seconds left at the Cardinals’ 10-yard line to force the tie.
E.D. White coach Kyle Lasseigne said the Cardinals played tough on defense during key situations.
"I think this was the ultimate bend-but-don’t break defense," Lasseigne said. "That’s how we have to play against these guys. Once we get them in a little bit closer spaces near the goal line, the talent gap is not quite as wide. We have less field to cover and we made some big plays down near the goal line."
Terrebonne coach Gary Hill said the Tigers will have to improve their offensive execution in the red zone. Terrebonne also had a long punt return by Ja'Khi Douglas called back due to a penalty in second half.
"I thought we played decent at times," Hill said. "We have to do a better job finishing drives. I think we got into the red zone three more times but just didn’t punch it in. We had a penalty here and a penalty there. We just didn’t play physical enough in goal line situations to put the ball into the end zone."
At first, it looked like Terrebonne wouldn’t have any problems putting up points during the jamboree.
On their opening possession, Tigers quarterback Ja’Khi Douglas led his team easily down the field for a touchdown, scoring on a 10-yard run to make it 7-0 Terrebonne with 12:42 left in the first half.
Terrebonne’s defense got a fumble recovery from defensive back Jakobe Carter, which put the Tigers on the move again into E.D. White territory, but the drive ended when Douglas tossed an interception to Ben Toups at the Cardinals’ 40-yard line.
Neither team found the end zone again during the first half. On the final play of the first half, Douglas tried running it into the end zone but was stopped a yard short as time expired, keeping the score 7-0 Tigers at halftime.
E.D. White’s offense had its best drive of the game on its first possession of the second half. After a 26-yard run by Branton Vicknair and a 23-yard scamper by Hunter Becnel, the Cardinals scored their first touchdown on a 4-yard run by Becnel to tie the game at 7 with 8:09 left in the second half.
Becnel said it was a momentum building scoring drive for the Cardinals.
"It feels great. I feel like we did what we had to do," Becnel said. "We’ve been putting in work in practice. I feel like we did a pretty good job out here."
Hill said the Tigers defense, which forced another turnover when defensive end Justin Murray forced a fumble, will have to play with more discipline going forward.
"Defensively we had moments when we played well and we had moments when we played bad," Hill said. "We extended some drives with penalties. Those are the things we have to stop. We have to do a better job of finishing drives and being a stronger football team mentally. We have to play for four quarters and not just play a couple of plays here and there."
Williams, a sophomore who transferred from Ellender this summer, got his first action as a quarterback for Terrebonne in the second half. That allowed the Tigers to move Douglas to receiver at times. On the final drive of the game, Williams broke loose on a 33-yard run down to the Cardinals’ 18. He also completed a 17-yard pass on third down to Keith Robinson.
"We gave our backup quarterback (Williams) a few reps," Hill said. "We wanted to see how he would handle the situation. He made some great plays and bad decisions, but that is what is supposed to be expected in that role."
Terrebonne will open the regular season against Jesuit at home on Sept. 6, while E.D. White will travel to Vandebilt Catholic the same night.
"E.D. White is always well-coached," Hill said. "They are going to do some good things. We're going to get them to challenge us in ways that you are supposed to be challenged, so it's a good draw for the jamboree."
Lasseigne said he hopes the Cardinals will continue to grow as the season progresses.
"I wish we could’ve won the football game, but I thought we did a lot of good things," Lasseigne said. "I think the biggest thing is when we had some adversity we responded to it. I’m really proud of our kids. I hope we’ve learned something from this experience."