After a dramatic, sloppy, back-and-forth first half, the game seemed within grasp for either Southern Lab or Istrouma.
Three minutes into the second half, it was clear who had control the game.
Behind senior running back Maurice Aucoin, the Kittens (3-0) used a punishing second half to upend the Indians (0-3) 21-6 at Istrouma.
“We told them at halftime our conditioning and our overall toughness were going to help us win the football game,” Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. “We let them hang around and we needed to put the game away.”
Aucoin racked up 117 yards on 21 carries - 115 of those in the second half - and two touchdowns to carry Southern Lab.
“He’s a warrior, man,” Mitchell said of Aucoin. “He plays special teams, offense, defense. He’s a tough kid, a great running back, and I’m happy to have him on my team.”
On the Kittens’ opening drive of the half, Aucoin carried the ball five times during a seven-play drive, accounting for 55 yards and the touchdown to put Southern Lab up 14-0.
On ensuing kickoff the Indians coughed the ball up, setting the Kittens up at the Istrouma 13-yard line.
Three plays later, Aucoin pushed in another score from 5 yards out to give Southern Lab a 21-0 cushion.
The Indians’ lone score came after a 10-play, 75-yard drive culminated by Broderick Delihue’s 4-yard touchdown scamper with 5:28 to play in the game.
After forcing a Kittens punt, Istrouma took over at the 2-yard line. The first play saw Delihue race 98 yards for a score, only to be called back by a holding penalty. The Indians didn’t threaten again.
“That’s tough,” Istrouma coach Johnny Felders said. “We get that touchdown, and we’re right back in the game, with our defense now playing well. It was real tough.”
The first half was entertaining, but low scoring. Both offenses showed sparks early, but neither could put points on the board for the first 21 minutes of the contest.
The Kittens struck first with 3:23 left in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown strike from Southern Lab quarterback Deonte Shorts to receiver Juan Smith.
Southern Lab began the drive at the Istrouma 13 after a blocked punt.
Shorts and company again threatened just before the half to no avail. The junior signalcaller found Smith twice on the drive, for connections of 21 and 14 yards, respectively. He then hit receiver Cardell Brown for 15 yards to set up the Kittens at the Indians 15.
Shorts’ next pass was intercepted to end the half.
The half saw 60 combined rushing yards between the teams to go along with five turnovers.