New Iberia – Top-seeded Catholic-New Iberia cruised into the Division III state semifinals with a 55-14 victory over Northlake Christian on Friday night.

The win is Catholic-New Iberia’s 11th straight. In their past three games, the Panthers have outscored their opponents 166-26.

“Hats of to (Northlake Christian),” Catholic-New Iberia coach Brent Indest said. “They are a good team, but we knew we were better than them.”

After receiving the opening kickoff, it took the Panthers 90 seconds to score their first touchdown, a 40-yard run from Jeremy Touchet, Jr.

“We challenged our guys to come our early and get it done in the first quarter,” Indest said. “I’m happy we were able to do that.”

The Wolverines’ first possession was halted by Panthers safety Peyton Pharr, who recorded a big tackle for loss on third down. Catholic-New Iberia carried the defensive momentum into the rest of the half, keeping Northlake Christian off the scoreboard.

Until the final minute of the first half, the Panthers held Northlake Christian to negative yards total offense.

The Panthers offense didn’t slow down on their next possession.

Quarterback Jason Pellerin connected with Logan Breaux on a play-action pass, giving Catholic-New Iberia a 14-0 lead.

After another Wolverines three-and-out and a short punt, Catholic-New Iberia took over on Northlake Christian’s 33-yard line. The Panthers took advantage of the good field position, finding the end zone again on a 16-yard run by senior running back Andre’ Bellefontaine. It was his 16th rushing score of the season.

“The bye week was good for us, however, I was concerned that we would come out flat,” Indest said. “I’m excited that we didn’t do that.”

Pellerin took over the remainder of the first half, recording two rushing scores, and another touchdown passing to Bennet Pecot on a fade route in the end zone, giving Catholic-New Iberia a 41-0 halftime lead.

Northlake responded on its first possession in the second half with a touchdown scoring driving, finalized with a 20-yard run from running back Mitchell Arnold.

However, Pellerin answered with his third rushing score on the Panthers’ next possession.

Next week the Panthers will take on fourth-seeded Newman, which defeated Opelousas Catholic.

“We just have to stay focused,” Indest said. “Nelson Stewart is one of the best young head coaches in the state. We are going to have to come out and play as well as we can.”