New Iberia — Top-seeded Catholic-New Iberia cruised into the Division III select state semifinals with a 55-14 victory over Northlake Christian on Friday night.
The win is Catholic-New Iberia’s 11th straight. In their past three games, the Panthers have outscored opponents 166-26.
“Hats off to (Northlake Christian),” Catholic-New Iberia coach Brent Indest said. “They are a good team, but we knew we were better than them.”
After receiving the opening kickoff, it took the Panthers 90 seconds to score their first touchdown of the night, scoring on a 40-yard run from Jeremy Touchet Jr.
“We challenged our guys to come out early and get it done in the first quarter,” Indest said. “I’m happy we were able to do that.”
The Wolverines’ first possession was halted by Panthers safety Peyton Pharr, who recorded a big tackle for loss on third down.
Catholic-New Iberia carried this defensive momentum in the rest of the half, keeping Northlake Christian off the scoreboard.
Until the final minute of the first half, the Panthers held Northlake Christian to negative yards of total offense.
The Panthers offense didn’t slow down in its next possession. Quarterback Jason Pellerin connected with Logan Breaux on a play-action pass, giving Catholic-New Iberia an early 14-0 lead.
After another Wolverines three-and-out and a short punt, Catholic-New Iberia took over on Northlake Christian’s 33-yard line. The Panthers took advantage of the friendly field position, finding the end zone again on a 16-yard carry from senior running back André Bellefontaine (16th rushing score of the season).
“The bye week was good for us; however, I was concerned that we would come out flat,” Indest said. “I’m excited that we didn’t do that.”
Pellerin took over the game in the remainder of the first half, recording two rushing scores and another touchdown through the air to Bennet Pecot on a fade route in the endzone, giving Catholic-New Iberia a 41-0 halftime lead.
Northlake responded on its first possession in the second half with a touchdown scoring driving, finalized with a 20-yard scurry from running back Mitchell Arnold.
However, Pellerin answered with his third rushing score of the night on the Panthers’ next possession.
Next week, the Panthers will travel to New Orleans to take on fourth-seeded Newman, which defeated Opelousas Catholic.
“We just have to stay focused,” Indest said. “(Newman coach) Nelson Stewart is one of the best young head coaches in the state. We are going to have to come out and play as well as we can.”