LAKE CHARLES — New Iberia’s football team came within 5 yards of erasing a 28-point deficit but never quite got there in their 49-35 loss Friday night at Barbe.
The Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball inside the Barbe 5 midway through the third quarter on a potential game-tying drive and never recovered.
The Buccaneers used a balanced offense and effective defense early in the game, outscoring New Iberia 28-7 in the first quarter and tacking on another touchdown to the lead early in the second.
Barbe got its first score on a 7-yard TD pass from Gavin Nettles to Brian Smith before New Iberia’s Timothy Declouet hit Baden Simpson on a 59-yard TD pass.
From there, Barbe rattled off four unanswered scores on a Nettles 9-yard run, a 20-yard pass from Nettles to Smith and a pair of Kirkland Banks TD runs of 5 and 10 yards to push the lead to 35-7.
New Iberia finally got back on the board late in the second quarter on Aaron Bean’s 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 35-14.
In the second half, things began falling in the Yellow Jackets’ favor.
New Iberia (2-3, 1-1 in District 3-5A) opened the third quarter with a long return that allowed the Yellow Jackets to start a drive in Barbe territory. Five plays later, Bean punched the ball into the end zone from a yard out to make it 35-21.
Then the Yellow Jackets caught Barbe off guard and converted an onside kick, giving them another short field, this time starting their drive at midfield.
Once again, New Iberia took advantage of the field position and Bean ran for another touchdown, this time from two yards out, making it 35-28 midway through the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Buccaneers’ return man fumbled the ball, and the Yellow Jackets were unable to jump on it in time. New Iberia forced a three-and-out but blocked Barbe’s punt and recovered it on the Buccaneers’ 18-yard line.
That’s when it seemed New Iberia ran out of luck.
The Yellow Jackets drove the ball to the Barbe 4-yard line and looked poised to score again and tie the game at 35. But this time, Bean fumbled the ball, and Barbe (2-3, 1-1) landed on it, taking away New Iberia’s chance to even the score.
On the ensuing drive, it seemed Nettles fumbled the ball while being sacked. A New Iberia defender picked it up and ran it back for the score, but referees called Nettles down, erasing the touchdown and giving the Buccaneers another chance.
Barbe took advantage, scoring on an 18-yard rush by Banks.
New Iberia cut the lead to 42-35 in the fourth quarter with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Declouet to wide receiver Tyler Khammany, but Barbe quickly put the game out of reach with a 38-yard touchdown run by Banks.
Nettles consistently picked the New Iberia defense apart, throwing 21-for-29 for 311 yards and two touchdowns in addition to a rushing touchdown.
Declouet completed 25 of 38 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns.