LAFAYETTE — St. Thomas More coach Jim Hightower turned into a gambling man with his kicking game Friday night and it paid off.
The Cougars (2-3) successfully executed an onside kick, a fake field goal and a fake punt late in the fourth quarter that helped defeat Barbe, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A, 42-35 at Cougar Stadiium.
STM entered the game 1-3, while Barbe was undefeated in the Bucs’ first four contests.
STM’s onside kick and field goal fake led to a first-half touchdown, and the Cougars led 28-7 at halftime.
Barbe launched a furious second-half rally to pull 35-28 on the final play of the third period, but the Cougars used perhaps the most unexpected play of all, faking a punt on a fourth-and-4 situation at their own 26-yard line.
STM snapped the ball to the up-back, Tee Chenevert, who collected the first down at the Cougars 39 with about 10 minutes left.
The punt extended an 80-yard STM touchdown drive that ended when running back Grant Dozier scored his third touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run with 7:19 remaining.
Hightower said the gambles were worth it, considering Barbe’s explosive offense.
“Against a team like Barbe, you have to sneak a possession or two away from them, and that is what we were trying to do,” Hightower said.
Barbe coach Mike Cutrera said STM played well.
“Tip your hat to them. At this point they were a team that really needed a win, and their kids played hard as did our kids,” Cutrera said. “The fake punt and the fake field goal enabled them to keep going. I thought the fake punt especially was a heck of a call. At that point, we kept coming back and they needed some momentum.”
Both teams exhibited prolific offenses. STM quarterback Brandon Bergeron threw for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns to receiver Seth Kelley, who finished with five catches for 223 yards.
Barbe quarterback Kennon Fontenot passed for 420 yards, with 211 of the reception yards to wide receiver Trey Quinn.
Barbe (4-1) stormed back in the third quarter to tighten the game to a touchdown. The Bucs’ final two touchdowns of the period went to Quinn for 26 yards, with another caught by tight end DeSean Smith for 25.
Barbe scored the game’s final touchdown with 3:20 remaining when Fontenot threw a 22-yarder to Quinn who straddled the line in the back of the end zone.
Bergeron threw for 223 by the intermission.
Nearly half of Bergeron’s yards in the first two quarters came on STM’s initial play from scrimmage. Kelley took advantage of a Barbe coverage breakdown and found himself all alone in the secondary.
Alll Bergeron had to do was place the ball in Kelley’s hands as the Cougars’ wide receiver crossed the goal line with 9:13 remaining.
A fumbled Barbe punt snap led to the Cougars’ second first quarter touchdown. Matthew Gumpert recovered the ball at the STM 49, and eight plays later the Cougars scored.
The TD drive featured a double reverse, with Kelley carrying for 12 yards to the Barbe 7.
Dozier did the rest for STM, until Bergeron carried for a 1-yard TD run with 5:13 left.
The Bucs moved 70 yards for their first touchdown on the following series.
Fontenot completed four passes on the series, with tight end DeSean Smith catching a 24 yarder. Fontenot ended the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run (1:06).
STM held off the Bucs in the second quarter and grabbed another two touchdown lead, with a couple of kicking game plays.
The Cougars moved 80 yards on the game’s next series to take a 21-7 lead on Grant Dozier’s 3-yrd run. The key play came on a 21-yard completion from Bergeron to Kelley.
Folllowing Doziwe’s TD, the Cougars recovered an onsides kick at the Barbe 49.
That drive ended with another kicking game play as the Cougars executed a fake 41-yard field goal when Bergeron stood up from the holder’s position and found Kelley who was alone down the sidelines for a TD pass with 6:31 left.
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