PRAIRIE RONDE — Eunice head coach Paul Trosclair and his coaching staff knew what to expect from the Northwest Raiders, but apparently their players didn’t.
After taking a 21-6 lead in the first quarter, it appeared as if the Bobcats expected the Raiders to give up and allow the game to turn into a rout.
But the exact opposite happened.
Instead of giving up, the Raiders continued to battle and ended up giving the Bobcats all they could handle en route to forcing overtime.
A missed extra point in overtime led to the Bobcats being able to stave off defeat and claim a 35-34 victory over the Raiders in the District 5-3A opener to remain unbeaten at 6-0.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Trosclair said. “I think our players were surprised, but I wasn’t surprised at all by the way Northwest played. We jumped out to an early 21-6 lead in the first quarter and it looked like we were on our way to scoring 50. Maybe in years past, Northwest would’ve given up after falling behind 21-6, but that mentality is gone and that’s a credit to coach Darnell Lee and his staff.”
Although many will focus on the missed extra point in overtime, Lee stresses that’s not what cost the Raiders the football game.
“The game was not lost on that missed PAT,” Lee said. “No one person or one play is the reason why we lost that game, because there were a lot of things that we could’ve done better throughout the game.”
Coaches upset with fight
Head football coaches Jody Hebert of Beau Chene and Opelousas High Quentin Payne weren’t the least bit happy with their respective teams following a fight that broke out shortly before halftime that led to five players being ejected and the game almost being called by the officials.
Payne, whose Tigers secured their second victory of the season by shutting out the Gators 29-0, called the fight in which benches cleared “unfortunate.”
“It was unfortunate and disappointing,” Payne said. “Our guys are just as wrong in this situation as Beau Chene is because we should have never responded. It’s not about who started it. The bottom line is we participated in so therefore we are just as wrong.”
Hebert, who like Payne is in his first-year as head coach of the Gators, agreed the incident was not something to be proud of.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Hebert said. “This is something that reflects negatively on our part. It not only makes our schools look bad, but our parish as well. This is a huge negative and definitely not something you ever want to see happen.”
According to Hebert the altercation occurred when one of his players running with the football was hit late with only seconds remaining in the second quarter, which then led to his player responding.
But Payne refuted that it was a late hit stating that the whistle by the refs was late and that the runner although it appears had gone out of bounds continued running with the football and his player trailing the play made a hit.
“It was a bang-bang play,” Payne said. “The referees didn’t throw a flag or penalize anyone for that hit. In fact, the kid who made the hit wasn’t one of the players ejected from the game.”
Shortly after that moment, the fight ensued.
“Honestly, everything that happened from that point on was like a blurr,” Hebert said. “It all just happened so quickly. I was really surprised that this was taking place because prior to that the game was pretty calm. It wasn’t like there were a lot of penalties for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct. It happened really quickly, but I believe we also got it resolved quickly. There were a few players that left the sidelines, but it wasn’t like everyone.”
Once order was restored, three Beau Chene and two Opelousas players were ejected from the football game and according to LHSAA rules are automatically suspended for the next game.
“I wasn’t surprised that there were players ejected from the game,” Hebert said. “In fact, they deserved to be ejected from the game.”
Payne applauded the job done by the officials under the circumstances.
“Honestly, this looked a lot worse than it actually was,” Payne said. “But the referees did a great job of finding the players who caused the altercation and took care of it. The refs got it right.”
More disciplinary action besides being suspended for the Week 7 contest could be on the horizon for the ejected players, but Hebert or Payne would confirm whether a decision had been made.
“More action is under consideration,” Hebert said. “But no decision on that has been made yet.”
“We have a copy of the tape and we are going to look at it with our principal and make a decision together,” Payne said. “The kids who were wrong will have to face the consequences of their actions.”
The officials decided not to cancel the second half of the game at the request of both Beau Chene and Opelousas and the coaches addressed both teams together at midfield before the start of the second half.
“We played the game and there wasn’t one flag the rest of the game for personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct or anything,” Payne said. “At halftime, the kids shook hands, put the incident behind them and went play football.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.