Many felt that the game was won with the ball at the 20-yard line with 1:12 left in the game. But a couple of crazy plays at the end made everyone at Tiger Stadium gasp in shock, excitement, and for the Loreauville faithful, anger.
Many won a crazy 27-26 game over Loreauville to advance to the Class 2A state championship game for the first time since 1988. But while the Tigers will celebrate, Loreauville will look at this game with great disdain over a key non-call.
Regardless of the call, Many will head to New Orleans to face Kinder in the 2A title game next Saturday at noon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After an interception in the end zone with 1:12 left in the game put Many at its 20 with a 27-20 lead, a holding call on a running play for an 80-yard touchdown backed it to the Many 2. The next play saw Many quarterback Xavier Dias fumble the snap that was recovered by Loreauville in the end zone for a touchdown with 47 seconds left to cut the lead to a single point.
But on the extra point attempt, Dias atoned for his mistake by slicing through the line and blocking the kick to keep Many ahead. But the Loreauville coaches felt Dias jumped over the center, which is an illegal play that was not called.
“We felt the guy jumped over the center, and that’s against the rules,” Loreauville head coach Trent Delayhoussaye said. “I mean, he came right over the middle. (The referees) said he went over the A gap, but he didn’t go through anything. He jumped over the center. But you got to make the play. It’s a tough one.”
Many head coach Jess Curtis thought it was a great effort by Dias to get in and make a big play.
“It was a great job of shooting the gap and blocking in,” he said. “And that’s it. Plays like that are the differences in ballgames.”
Loreauville tried an onside kick afterwards, but Dias dove into the pileup and came up with the football to seal the win.
Many (13-1) took the lead in the fourth quarter by going on a 15-play, 73-yard drive that chewed up over seven minutes of clock. Running backs Kentrell Maxie and James Carhee pounded through Loreauville’s defense for some hard-fought yards, and Maxie scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to put Many ahead 27-20 with 2:38 left in the game.
Quarterback Raymond Bonnette tried to lead Loreauville back on the ensuing drive that got to the Many 45 before a long pass into the end zone was picked off by Carnelius Smart that seemed like the end of Loreauville’s run. Bonnette – who again gave a tribute to his injured brother Rhashid by wearing his number – was 8-of-11 for 111 yards with a passing touchdown while rushing for 78 yards and two scores.
“What a great game. (Loreauville’s) kids willed themselves – without one of their best players – playing unbelievable ball in back-to-back weeks,” Curtis said. “And I just want to thank my kids for winning on the road. This is a tough place to play, man. This is the toughest place that I’ve ever played in my coaching career or when I was playing. I’m just so proud of my guys for hanging in there because they played wonderful defensively. We just had to find a way to make enough plays.”
Bonnette and Loreauville (12-2) started fast in the first quarter, finding receiver Tryston Abraham for a 27-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 6-0. Many responded with a long drive that was capped by a 7-yard touchdown by Dias to put them up 7-6. Then a fumble by Bonnette on a sack was scooped up by Many’s Robert Parrie for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Bonnette scored 5-yard touchdown runs on back-to-back drives to put Loreauville up 20-13 midway in the second quarter. Many struck back fast to tie the game as Dias found receiver Isaiah Smith for a 59-yard touchdown pass that tied it going into halftime. Dias was 3-of-9 for 105 yards passing and ran for 113 yards.
The game will be a tough one for Loreauville to swallow, not because of the blocked extra point, but of the mistakes and close calls that prevented it from getting the win and its first trip to the Superdome.
“We played a great football team. We just made too many mistakes,” Delahoussaye said. “We must have out-penaltied them in yardage by 100 yards. But that’s part of the game.
“But we had a great team and a great season. The kids have nothing to hang their heads on and I wish Many the best of luck. They got a real good football team.”