NEW IBERIA — For long stretches Friday night, Catholic High of New Iberia sorely missed its star running back but the Panthers defense picked up the slack.

Catholic-New Iberia entered the District 5-2A contest against Opelousas Catholic averaging an impressive 327 rushing yards per contest, with senior running back Seth Pierre accounting for 942 rushing yards. But the Panthers senior suffered a slight ACL tear in last week’s game and wasn’t available Friday.

In fact, Pierre might not be back until the opening round of the playoffs.

Despite struggling on offense, Catholic-New Iberia pulled out an ugly 12-7 victory over visiting Opelousas Catholic.

After forcing Catholic-New Iberia to punt on its first possession, Opelousas Catholic (5-3, 3-2) struck first as senior quarterback David Labbe broke three tackles on way to a 64-yard touchdown run. Labbe finished the night with 155 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Catholic-New Iberia (6-2, 5-0) immediately responded with a 66-yard kickoff return by Ja’vaughn Narcisse which gave the Panthers the ball at the 24-yard line. Catholic-New Iberia eventually found the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jadan Stokes. The extra point by Thomas Gardner was no good.

Despite the score, Catholic-New Iberia was unable to muster anything on offense as the Panthers were held to 46 yards of offense in the first half.

Opelousas Catholic was able to move the ball easier as the Vikings piled up 207 yards in the first half. With the exception of that first drive, Opelousas Catholic failed to find the end zone for the remainder of the game. Catholic-New Iberia’s defense forced four turnover on downs, three punts, two interceptions and one fumble on fourth down.

That defense would set up Catholic’s go-ahead score in the third quarter as senior Jeremy Touchet stepped in front of a Labbe pass for an interception. Labbe ended the night completing 4-of-17 passes for 61 yards.

A handful of plays later, Stokes would run it from three yards out for his second score of the game. Stokes starting in place for Pierre rushed for 29 yards on 14 carries.

The ensuing two-point conversion failed which meant Opelousas Catholic still had an opportunity to retake the lead. The Vikings though were unable to move the ball down the field and had its final two drives end on turnover downs.

Opelousas Catholic returns home next Friday and will host Loreauville while Catholic-New Iberia hosts Sacred Heart-Ville Platte for homecoming.