LEROY— The Cinderella run for North Vermilion ended Friday night at home with a 21-18 loss to the No. 11 seed Jennings Bulldogs in a Class 3A nonselect regional playoff game.
In a physical game, it came down to the final Ty Desormeaux incompletion as time expired to propel Jennings into a quarterfinal matchup at home against Amite.
“I thought it was a great high school football game,” Jennings coach Rusty Phelps said. “I want to congratulate North Vermilion. I thought they played extremely well.”
Jennings scored the first points of the game. After each team traded punts, a 39-yard run by Jacob Soileau set up a 13-yard touchdown run by sophomore Travis Etienne to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
The defenses of both teams shut the opposing offenses down until North Vermilion was able to tie the game on a 3-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Dade Dieterich with 5:37 remaining before halftime.
That was enough time for Jennings to reel of a five-minute drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kaleb Chaisson to Etienne to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead at halftime.
The teams traded punts out of halftime, then North Vermilion got a 27-yard field goal off of a 12-play drive that lasted over five minutes to cut the deficit to four points.
After that score, Jennings began to run its offense methodically, slowing the pace down.
The Bulldogs were able to extend their lead to 21-10 on 12-yard run by Luke Trahan that was fumbled in the end zone and recovered by Dylan Oustalet with less than four minutes left in the game.
A 26-yard run by Etienne on third down was the key play that set up the touchdown on that drive.
North Vermilion responded quickly. A 70-yard drive was capped by a 37-yard screen pass from Desormeaux to Taylor Abshire.
A successful two-point conversion cut the Bulldogs’ lead to three points with 2:28 left.
Jennings recovered the onside kick attempt by the Patriots at midfield. Looking to get first downs to kill the clock, Etienne broke a 10-yard run for a key first down, and three plays later Trahan delivered a 23-yard run up the gut to run more time off the clock.
“Luke’s been a guy that delivers a lot of body blows throughout the course of a game,” Phelps said. “He’s our fourth quarter guy. He did a heck of a job all night.”
The Patriots got the ball back with 30 seconds left after stopping Jennings in the red zone.
North Vermilion started the drive at the 9-yard line, and after three plays, had moved the ball to the Jennings 47 with 10 seconds left.
Desormeaux rolled out and threw the ball up for grabs, but the Jennings defender batted the ball down to end North Vermilion’s season.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball right before halftime with penalties,” said North Vermilion head coach Richard Prejean. “Hats off to Jennings, they have a good football team.”
Chaisson threw two interceptions, and at times Jennings struggled to move the ball, but Phelps said he was grateful to move on to the next round.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we just found a way,” he said. “I’m glad to be going to the third round. We stood up when we had to. I’m real proud of the coaching staff and the players. We came down here and gutted one out.”
Jennings will be in action at home next week against No. 3 seed Amite.