Catholic-New Iberia extended its undefeated season using its rushing game, as the Division III select top seed defeated fifth-seeded Newman 55-35 on Friday at Lupin Field in New Orleans.
With the win, the Panthers (12-0) will play Calvary Baptist, a 45-13 winner over Riverside in the Dec. 5 championship game.
After the Panthers made an early fumble, Catholic coach Brent Indest said his team started generating offense.
Andre’ Bellefontaine ran for 244 yards on 16 rushes and three of his team’s touchdowns.
“Andre Bellefontaine, he’s a warrior,” said Indest. “He’s a kid that, when the chips are down, he’s always going to step up. He’s playing out there with a broken wrist. He did a fabulous job.”
The Greenies (11-2) missed Kendall Bussey for the second straight game; he missed the 27-10 win over Opelousas Catholic with a sprained knee. However, senior quarterback Jay Tyler threw for 81 yards and ran for 80 yards on 17 carries. He also participated in all five of his team’s touchdowns.
“Coming out here, putting up 35 points, making it at least a little bit of a game against this No. 1 seed right here, Catholic-New Iberia,” Tyler said. “They’re a very good team. They have a really good shot of winning the state championship.
“All we can do is ask our boys to make a game out of everything, never give up. We never did that. We played four full quarters and did our thing.”
Catholic scored its final touchdown with 4:57 left in the game when Bellefontaine scored on a 65-yard run for a 55-28 lead.
Newman then scored the game’s final points when Tyler scored on a 6-yard run with 3:15 left.
“I think we came out and we fought hard,” said Newman coach Nelson Stewart. “We really did. We knew that there were some matchups up front. We were outclassed in some aspect. We challenge our kids to fight. Sometimes in life, you’re a little outmanned.”
Stewart was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I’m just proud of the way our kids fought,” he said. “I think that’s one of, if not the best team in Division III. All you can ask your kids is they come out, put their heart on the field and just keep going.”
Despite Tyler amassing 36 passing yards in the first half and parts in both his team’s touchdowns, Catholic took a 28-14 lead at halftime.
When Tyler completed a 7-yard pass to Christopher Lane with 44 seconds left in the first quarter, the Greenies took a 14-7 lead; however, that was the only advantage they would have in the opening half.
The Panthers built their advantage with Bellefontaine, who scored two of his team’s first half touchdowns. He finished the half with 162 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Newman cut the lead to 41-21 when Tyler completed a 6-yard pass to Tyler Addison with 3:40 left in the third quarter.