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Tarpons lose district title in final seconds

Tarpons lose district title in final seconds

The South Lafourche football team finished one play short of the district championship.

The Tarpons led Assumption 31-29 with less than a minute to go in Friday night’s showdown, thanks to a beautiful 35-yard field goal from senior kicker Brannon Lee – a kick that many thought would be a game-winner.

But the Mustangs’ powerful offense stayed poised and didn’t let the late deficit deter them. They drove straight down the field in lightning speed with the game on the line -- a last-second drive capped by a long touchdown pass from quarterback DaRon Williams to Austin Isibor from 21 yards out with 7 seconds left in the game.

The touchdown silenced the home-standing crowd at Memorial Stadium and catapulted the Mustangs to a 36-31 win – a victory that clinched the district title for Assumption, which is now 8-1 on the season.

The Tarpons sit at 5-4 heading into the final game.

“It was a great game. Our kids played as hard as they possibly could throughout the game,” South Lafourche coach Dennis Skains said. “You just tip your hat to Assumption. Their kids stepped up and made a play. We’ve had adversity all year. We’ve dealt with things all year. It’s a tough one. Our kids are hurting. But I have no doubt that we’ll show up to practice this week hungry to keep pushing. We’ve done that all season.”

The homecoming festivities started well for South Lafourche.

The Tarpons got the ball first and drove straight down the field for an early 7-0 lead – a drive capped by a 26-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jaydon Cheramie to receiver Shak Dillon.

After each team punted, South Lafourche struck again, forcing a fumble to set up a short field and then scoring a touchdown on a short scamper from Cheramie to go ahead 14-0.

“We were comfortable with how we prepared,” Skains said. “We knew there was a chance we’d jump out on them.”

But the Mustangs battled back, scoring two touchdowns of their own to make the game 14-all midway through the second quarter.

Before halftime, Cheramie and Dillon hooked up again for another long score to give the Tarpons a 21-14 halftime lead.

The second half was back and forth. The Mustangs made it 21-all when Zyshawn Richards took a quick pitch 60-plus yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter.

After a Tarpons punt, South Lafourche struck when senior Nikali Lombas stripped the football from a Mustang and took it 42 yards for a touchdown to go ahead 28-21.

But on the next South Lafourche drive, Cheramie had a fumble of his own, which set up Assumption with a short field – a drive capped on a 2-yard run from Richards. After a 2-point conversion, Assumption led 29-28 with a few minutes to go.

Down by a point, the Tarpons drove down the field and put Lee in position to be the hero. His 35-yard try was gorgeous – right in the middle of the uprights to take the 31-29 lead.

But the Tarpons defense couldn’t hold up and the Mustangs made the decisive play.

“It’s a heartbreaker,” Skains said. “But football is a lot like life. We just need to keep pushing and move on.”

TROJANS GET 5th WIN, TRUMP TERREBONNE

Central Lafourche had no choice but to win on Friday night. A loss would have ended the team’s hopes of reaching the Class 5A State Playoffs for the first time under coach Keith Menard.

But the Trojans got just what the doctor ordered on Friday night – a victory that keeps the team’s season alive and well heading into week 10.

It wasn’t easy, but Central Lafourche thrived when it mattered most, using a late defensive stop to seal a 21-18 victory over rival Terrebonne.

The victory likely means that Central Lafourche can reach the playoffs if they beat East St. John on Friday night in Reserve.

“I told the kids that this was a playoff game for us, because we needed to win it,” Trojans coach Keith Menard said. “I thought we played our tails off. It was sloppy at times, but every bit of credit for that belongs to Terrebonne. We got to make the plays we needed to win at the end, and that’s obviously big for us.”

The Trojans started off hot.

After a muffed Terrebonne punt, Central Lafourche struck first on a 20-yard pass from Austin Aucoin to Andrew Griffin to take an 8-0 lead. In the second quarter, Terrebonne fought back and got a short field goal from Mauro Ramirez to chip the lead to 8-3.

But the Trojans had the last laugh in the first half, using a 15-yard touchdown run from Nelton Allen to go up 15-3 – a lead that stuck until halftime.

“The first half was as well as we’ve played all season,” Menard said.

But in the second half, Terrebonne fought back and made a game of it. The Tigers opened the half with a 17-play drive for a touchdown capped on a 1-yard touchdown run from Mason Turner to make the game 15-10.

Terrebonne forced a stop and was in business again, but the Trojans recovered a fumble and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown to make it 21-10.  But Terrebonne immediately battled back and got a touchdown and 2-point conversion to make it 21-18 with six minutes left. They then intercepted a pass and took control of the ball at the Trojans 40-yard-line.

But instead of marching in for the win, the Trojans defense stiffened and secured the win.

“I’m so happy for the kids,” Menard said. “They’ve worked hard, bought in and are such a close-knit group. We’re happy they got to get this one.”