LAFAYETTE — Make it three straight shutouts for St. Thomas More.
Plaquemine’s high-scoring Wing-T attack ran into a stingy Cougars defense Friday night in a battle of two of the top teams in Class 4A, and STM’s unit was up to the challenge in a 35-0 win.
The Cougars (3-0), ranked atop the 4A poll, held the Green Devils (2-1) to three-and-outs on seven of their first nine possessions and gave up only three first downs in the first half. Meanwhile, STM scored twice after Plaquemine turnovers in the first half, then scored three times in a nine-minute span in the second half to take their third win in as many meetings between the teams.
“This one tells me we have a chance to be a pretty good football team,” Cougars coach Jim Hightower after taking win No. 399 in his career.
“They are well-coached (at Plaquemine). They’ve got some athletes and they’re very explosive.”
The Green Devils hurt themselves with three turnovers in the game’s first 15 minutes — two of which STM turned into scores on the way to a 14-0 halftime advantage. Michael Sproles muffed a punt midway through the first period, and STM’s Elliot Rountree recovered at the Plaquemine 38. Eight plays later, William Cryer scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 4-yard run.
Four series later, Devils quarterback Herbert Thomas mishandled a snap, and Cade Broussard recovered for STM at the Plaquemine 35. On first down, backup quarterback Caleb Holstein found Grant Arceneaux on a crossing pattern for a 35-yard score.
Plaquemine threatened to snap STM’s scoreless season with three drives inside the Cougars 25, but turned it over on downs twice and O’Neal Lanieu was wide left on a 37-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the game.
“They’re just very sound defensively,” Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said. “They’re strong up front and they just do everything right. On the other hand, we made so many mistakes that we don’t even make in practice.
“We couldn’t move against air in the first half.”
Plaquemine did wind up with 208 offensive yards, many of them coming on a 19-play drive from its own 9 in the game’s final four minutes before the missed field goal. The Green Devils didn’t get their fourth first down of the game until less than two minutes remained in the third quarter, with St. Thomas More leading 28-0.
The Cougars, who have outscored opponents 129-0 through three games, marched 69 yards with their first possession of the second half to set up Cryer’s 6-yard scoring run, and added a 50-yard march one possession later before Chris Primeaux scored from seven yards out. STM added a third straight touchdown with 10:43 left when Peyton Landry found John Robertson open on the sideline for a 53-yard score.
“This was a big one for us,” Hightower said. “They had some turnovers and they missed some receivers. We were putting pressure on them and making them move around in the pocket. Our offense is still feeling its way a little bit, but we were able to put together some good drives.”
Landry and Holstein combined for 266 passing yards to make up most of STM’s 386-yard offensive attack, with Arceneaux catching seven passes for 103 yards along with the touchdown.