Teurlings Catholic can score, too.
But more importantly on Friday, the Rebels proved they can slow down one of the state’s most high-flying offenses.
Teurlings broke open a back-and-forth game with a second-half blitz — five touchdowns in just over 13 minutes — and limited Calvary Baptist’s high-powered Cavaliers to one trip into the end zone in the final two and one-half quarters. It all added up to a 52-28 win that cemented the second-ranked Rebels’ claim as one of the state’s premier teams.
“The bottom line, they turned the gas pedal on and we didn’t answer,” said Calvary coach John Bachman, Sr. “All of us on this sideline got our butt kicked.”
The Rebels (4-0) scored on their first four possessions of the second half behind quarterback Conner Cronin, who completed 23-of-28 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. But it was a special-teams play that gave TCHS, ranked second in the Class 4A poll, a working margin early in the second half.
Teurlings had driven to a go-ahead score with the second-half kickoff, a drive capped by Cronin’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie McBride, but the Cavaliers (3-1) marched right back and reached the Rebel 17 before quarterback Daniel Fitzwater misfired on three straight passes.
Thomas Sanford came on to attempt a 35-yard field goal, but Rebel senior Devin Delcambre stormed the middle and blocked the kick. It bounced into safety Brennan Stelly’s hands, and the senior outran everyone on a 62-yard return that gave Teurlings a 31-21 lead.
“Coming out and scoring right at the start (of the second half) was huge,” said TCHS coach Sonny Charpentier. “But then, to get the blocked field goal, that was a huge momentum shift.”
After that, Calvary — the state’s second-ranked Class 2A team and one that knocked off last year’s 5A finalists West Monroe and Carencro over the past two weeks — only managed one score. That came on the next series when tailback Orlando Bradford capped a quick four-play, 80-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown that cut it back to 31-28.
But the Rebels answered, with Zack LaFleur’s kickoff return setting up a short field and Blair Lormand capping a 45-yard march with a one-yard TD burst with 3:29 left in the third quarter. Then, after pressuring a Cavalier punt that ended up going for negative yardage, Cronin hit LaFleur with a screen pass that the junior turned into a 14-yard touchdown and a 45-28 lead.
“Zack and Blair, and a lot of guys, stepped up,” said Cronin, who was missing his top target in senior Phillip Vidrine who was out with a broken leg. “They (Calvary) put up monster points, so for us to stay with them was pretty wonderful. We talked at halftime that we had to keep up with them if we were going to stay in it.”
“Conner had a really good night,” Charpentier said. “For only his third start and for someone that hasn’t had a lot of game experience, his execution was good and we did a good job of protecting him.”
Lormand added a final three-yard scoring run midway through the final period, but by that time the Rebel defense had turned in two stops. In all, TCHS allowed only three offensive touchdowns to a team that scored 126 points in its first three games.
“We put in a new scheme and mixed up some coverages,” Charpentier said. “Against a team like that you can’t have enough points. But we told our kids to just keep playing and that we weren’t going to win it or lose it in the first half.”
Shun Brown’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the game’s first play gave Calvary an early lead, and Fitzwater connected with Weston Steelhammer for a pair of first-half scores as part of his 25-of-35, 401-yard throwing night. But the Rebels stayed close on Cronin’s scoring passes to Stelly and Sage LeBlanc, the last one coming 2:43 before halftime and making it 21-17.
From that point on, Calvary never started any of its final seven offensive possessions outside its own 25.
“Field position was big,” Bachman said, “but we just shot ourselves in the foot with so many penalties (11, for 155 yards). We converted a lot of third downs, but we shouldn’t have been in all those third-and-forevers.”