CROWLEY — With the Notre Dame Pioneers holding a one-point lead after three quarters against Iowa, Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook said he and his staff were discussing who to ride as the game entered the fourth quarter.
“We were talking about whom to go with,” Cook said. “I said, ‘We’re going with experience.'”
Experience in the form of senior tailback Luke Broussard, who carried the ball 30 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns as the Pios escaped with the 28-13 win.
“This was just a hard-fought game,” Cook said. “(Iowa) is well-coached and they did some good things tonight. Their personnel is big and they take up a lot of space inside. We just kept pounding Luke and he is so tough for as little as he is. Luckily, we made enough plays to get the win.”
With junior Austin Thibodeaux out, Cook said Broussard will be called on to get the bulk of the workload.
“Without Austin in there, it is a big difference,” Cook said. “Luke is going to have to carry a little bit more of the load with Austin out.
“John Michael Bess spotted him for a little while and came up with some big plays, but he’s a sophomore. We’re going to rely on the experience.”
“Broussard is the fastest guy on the football field,” said Iowa coach Sean Richard, whose Yellow Jackets dropped their first game of the season. “He ran well against us last year and, without (Thibodeaux) in there, he took it upon himself to carry the team to a win tonight.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Broussard opened the scoring with a 34-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The play was set up after Cook received decent field position at his own 43-yard line, but elected to make the Yellow Jackets re-kick after a holding penalty. The second punt was returned to the Iowa 34-yard line and Broussard punched it in.
“That one worked out, but if it didn’t, it would be ‘Ole Cook is an idiot,'” Cook joked. “I was just hoping it would give us a chance to improve our field position and it worked out.”
Iowa answered the Broussard touchdown with a six-play, 80-yard drive capped off with an Austin Theriot five-yard touchdown run to tie the game. The Pios picked up one of their four personal fouls of the game on that drive, something Cook said has to be fixed.
“That was the most disappointing thing about tonight was the three or four stupid penalties,” Cook said. “I can live with holding, but there is no excuse for those personal fouls. It is going to get us before long if we don’t change. We just have to be smarter.”
The game remained close into the fourth quarter, until Pios quarterback Brad Stoma hit Ross Cullen on a swing pass to open the fourth that went 16 yards for a touchdown, making the score 21-13. After an Iowa three-and-out, the Pios began to work the clock, feeding Broussard, who broke a 26-yard run and scored his third touchdown of the game.
“This was a very tough game, but the next one will be just like this,” said Cook; Notre Dame travels to Westlake next week.
“There are no breathers in this district. We don’t have that luxury right now. We are going to continue to find out how tough we are every single week.”