LAFAYETTE — It’s becoming a bad habit for Hahnville’s Tigers, getting off to a slow start and digging a big early hole.
A lot of teams, though, would have found themselves behind Friday night, with the start that St. Thomas More had in its final nondistrict game of the season.
The fifth-ranked Cougars scored two touchdowns in less than three minutes, with quarterback Will Bellamy and wide receiver Trevor Begue hooking up for two long scores, and that was just the start as STM rolled to a stunning 52-12 win over the struggling Tigers.
St. Thomas More (4-1) scored on six of its seven first-half possessions, with Begue catching three touchdown passes from Bellamy and also returning a kickoff 93 yards for a score moments after the Tigers (2-3) notched their only first-half score on Mike Neal’s 24-yard pass to Kevin Comardelle.
“Trevor found another gear (Friday night),” said Cougars coach Jim Hightower, who notched the 380th win of his 41-year career only two days after being announced as one of the newest inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. “Will threw some razor shots to him. We were just lights out in just about every aspect.”
Hahnville lost for the third straight time, and this one was eerily similar to last week’s 48-23 District 7-5A loss to rival Destrehan. In that game, Destrehan scored five first-half touchdowns, and the Cougars matched that on Friday night.
“We haven’t been playing well,” said Tigers coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “This is becoming a bad pattern getting off this slow. It’s happened to us five games in a row. We’re working hard. ... We just have to get this figured out.”
The Tigers couldn’t figure out Begue, who finished with seven catches for 166 yards. His first two covered almost 100 yards — a 45-yard pass from Bellamy on the game’s third play from scrimmage, and a 54-yard pass on the second play after a three-and-out by the Hahnville offense.
That three-and-out also became a pattern, as except for penalties, the Tigers didn’t pick up a first down until early in the second quarter on Anthony Williams’ 46-yard run. By that time it was 28-6, on the way to a 38-6 STM halftime lead.
“It was just their strength,” Saltaformaggio said. “They just physically whipped us on the line of scrimmage. I could give all the cliches, but this was just a whipping.”
STM followed the two early touchdown passes with a 45-yard drive on its third possession, that leading to a 3-yard scoring run by Evan Trahan. The Tigers did threaten, capping a penalty-infused drive when Neal had the first of his two scoring tosses.
On the ensuing kickoff, though, Begue took in the kick at the STM 7 and was barely touched on a return up the middle, giving him three scores with 1:35 still left in the first period.
The Cougars got a 32-yard field goal from Bailey Raborn with 2:14 left in the half, and after a fumble recovery, STM drove 40 yards on only three plays before Bellamy found Begue on a crossing pattern for a 9-yard score 1:11 before halftime.
“That’s about as good as we can play in that first half,” said Hightower. “I hope that I can see that more.”
The Cougars had fallen from the unbeaten ranks the previous Friday when Catholic-Baton Rouge scored 21 unanswered second-half points in taking a 35-17 win in Baton Rouge.
“Our kids were hurt by that one,” Hightower said, “not with the loss, but with the way we played last week. That wasn’t Cougar football, and it showed Saturday morning when they came in. They bowed their necks and went to work, and they really responded.”
Bellamy finished 14-of-18 passing for 223 yards and the three scores, while Trahan finished with 133 rushing yards and added a second touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:41 left in the third quarter. That was part of a 510-yard offensive effort for the Cougars.
“We’re losing some of the moxie we built up from getting to the quarterfinals last year,” Saltaformaggio said. “It’s obvious we’ve got to find that again. We knew these three games (Riverside, Destrehan and STM) would be difficult.”
Hahnville got its final touchdown with 8:54 left when Neal connected with Devontae Cravin for a 24-yard strike. Neal finished 9-of-21 for 102 yards.