CROWLEY - Defense and ball control combined to keep Notre Dame-Crowley rolling to a fourth straight victory and continued command of the District 4-3A race Friday night at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
The Pioneers’ ground game amassed 269 yards and the defense stopped three Crowley High drives inside the NDHS 20-yard line with two interceptions and a fumble recovery to assist the 21-6 victory in a contest between intra-city rivals meeting for the first time since 2008.
Notre Dame, ranked No. 5, improved to 6-3 and 4-0 in district, while Crowley dropped to 4-4 and 2-2 in 4-3A.
NDHS coach Lewis Cook Jr. said his team’s ability to limit Crowley’s offensive snaps was a major part of the victory.
“Ball control was a big part of it,” he said. “We wanted to keep the ball away from Crowley as much as possible. They have such great talent on offense.”
Cook said the Pioneers especially exhibited that strategy in the fourth quarter, as NDHS began the period protecting a 14-6 lead.
Notre Dame took nearly seven minutes off the game clock on its final possession, moving 92 yards and scoring after 13 plays when running back Nick Gossen ran into the end zone on a 4-yard run with 55 seconds remaining.
“That final drive ate up half of the fourth quarter, and we were able to control the clock when we needed and come up with a nice win,” Cook said.
Gossen gained 155 yards on 27 carries, while Pioneers’ running back Luke Broussard had 112 on 17 attempts.
For Crowley, the night offensively was reflected in missed opportunities, especially deep in Notre Dame territory.
Despite that problem, Crowley’s Devante Bourque gained 96 yards on 23 attempts, and the Gents finished with 251 total offensive yards.
Early in the second period, the Gents drove to the Notre Dame 11, but quarterback Andre Mills was unable to handle a bad snap. Brent Sonnier recovered the mishandled attempt for the Pioneers, ending the threat.
Notre Dame secured its first interception on the final play of the first half when defensive back Clint Faul hauled in a Mills pass at the Pioneers’ 3.
“I thought we probably stayed on the field too long defensively. I just wish we could have finished some of those drives,” Crowley coach Tommy Tate said.
The final turnover for Crowley came with 14 seconds left in the third period as Gavin Bourgeois intercepted Mills at the Pioneers’ 6.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Tate said. “We had several of those opportunities in the first half and we let them get away. When you play a team as talented as Notre Dame, you have to have all your bases covered.
“Overall I thought our guys really gave a great effort, but it’s a tough, tough loss against a good Notre Dame team.”
The Pioneers scored touchdowns in each of the first two quarters, but Crowley controlled most of the third period.
Notre Dame took a 7-0 lead with 5:07 left in the first quarter when Gossen punched the ball over from three yards out, ending a 58-yard drive. Freshman Dustin Reiners kicked the first of three extra points to put the Pios ahead.
Reiners’ cousin, Cole Reiners, scored the second NDHS touchdown of the half, after he recovered a fumble by Broussard as Broussard was stripped of the ball as he headed into the end zone.
Crowley’s offense completed a scoring drive with 7:55 remaining in the third period when Bourque took over, catching a 17-yard pass from Mills and running for all but 18 of a 81-yard march that consumed nearly three minutes.