University High is heading back to the Mercedez-BenzSuperdome.
With their 2013 season ending in a lopsided loss in the Division II state championship Game, the Cubs were determined to get back in position to hoist a trophy this year. They are one step away from redemption after toppling Notre Dame 35-13 in the semifinals on Friday.
“We’re going to celebrate this one,” said University coach Chad Mahaffey. “We played a very physical game against a very physical team. This was hard earned.”
University will see a familiar face in New Orleans next weekend, as they are now set to face District 7-3A rival Parkview Baptist.
“We are playing consistent and getting better every week,” said U-High receiver Tre Jackson. “I’m extremely excited to play with a lot on the line.”
Jackson is a big reason why the Cubs are playing for a championship once again. Not only did the junior receiver lead U-High with seven catches for 121 yards, but his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to end the first half put the Cubs up 21-6 and provided the game’s turning point.
“I was just trying to get into the end zone,” Jackson said. “I just saw the opportunity and I took it.”
At first surprised that Notre Dame opted to kick it deep with little time left, Jackson fielded the ball at his own 3-yard line and raced down the left sideline.
Watching the play develop as he approached midfield, the junior cut across the field and followed a convoy of Cubs into the end zone.
“It was a big momentum play for us,” Mahaffey said of Jackson. “To give us a little extra cushion going into the half was huge.”
Notre Dame had cut its deficit to one possession on Dustin Reiners’ 40-yard field goal with six seconds left in the second quarter. The Pioneers were due to get the ball back to start the second half and were feeling confident.
That all changed with Jackson’s big play.
“I knew that the odds were against us, but I still feel that we had a chance, ” said Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook. “But with the way things went, you have to give U-High all of the credit.”
While Jackson set the tone for the Cubs, senior tailback Nick Brossette was the one who closed the door on Notre Dame.
The senior running back and LSU commitment turned in a game-high 166 rushing yards on 20 carries.
Brossette accounted for the only points of the third quarter when he burst through an open hole up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown run.
“We brought it tonight,” Brossette said. “(Notre Dame) thought that we weren’t a physical team. I got to give it to my offensive line for giving me that room.”
After Notre Dame scored its first touchdown of the game on 1-yard plunge by running back Damon Comeaux in the fourth quarter to pull within 15 points, Brossette tacked on his third and final score of the night with an identical touchdown run from a yard out, putting the game out of reach.
“He’s so consistent,” said Mahaffey of his star running back. “For five years he has been doing this stuff. He always plays big in a big game.”