The Rummel football team’s Class of 2016 has won a lot of games, but it wasn’t quite able to pull off the final win it wanted the most.
The top-seeded Raiders turned the ball over late and lost 31-28 to No. 6 seed Catholic of Baton Rouge on a game-ending field goal in the Division I select state championship Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Friday’s win gave the Bears (10-3) their first state championship, while Rummel was left with the frustration of an 11-2 record.
“They’ve accomplished so much, but this obviously is not the way you want it to end,” said Rummel coach Jay Roth, who made three title-game appearances and won two championships with Rummel’s graduating class. “When these guys won (the state championship) as sophomores, I thought ‘Wow,’ but it shows just how hard it is to win a championship at any level.”
Catholic running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who missed last week’s win over Evangel Christian and the second half of the previous week’s win over Brother Martin with a concussion, was electric the entire game and was named his team’s Most Outstanding Player. The junior finished with 88 rushing yards, 161 receiving yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).
“I knew coming into this game I had a lot to prove, because I wasn’t really seen in the playoffs,” Edwards-Helaire said. “I was two quarters into the playoffs, then didn’t play anymore. So for me to come out and perform, it was a must. I had to do it for this group of seniors.”
With 2:08 left in the game and the score tied at 28, Rummel took the field with an opportunity to drive down and win, but Catholic’s defense came up with the game-changing play.
Rummel quarterback Chase Fourcade mishandled a snap from center and dropped the ball, allowing Catholic linebacker Aaron Moffitt to sprint into the backfield and recover the fumble at the Rummel 45 with 1:46 remaining.
Catholic drove down to the Rummel 17-yard line, and kicker Parker Fontenot finished the game with a 34-yard field goal to seal the win and the state title as time expired.
On the road to the championship, Catholic beat the top three seeds in the bracket, winning all three games on the final play.
“It’s just kind of a surreal feeling right now. I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet,” Fontenot said.
“I didn’t know what it was, but this group has just felt special all season,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “These guys have put in the work necessary to get here, and they deserve this win. They are a very special group.”
After both teams went scoreless in an ugly third quarter, Rummel found itself deep in Catholic territory facing fourth-and-5. The Raiders decided to put it into the hands of Fourcade, and the senior came up with the huge play his team needed.
The Nicholls State commitment was grabbed by a Catholic defender in the pocket, but he broke the tackle and found a streaking David Hensley up the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown pass that put Rummel up 21-14 with 10:24 left.
The Bears answered on the following drive, completing a 54-yard touchdown from Ian Brian to Blair Bogan that tied the score at 21.
On the next Rummel drive, Catholic sacked Fourcade and forced him to fumble, which the Bears defense recovered deep in Rummel territory.
One play later, Edwards-Helaire scampered into the end zone from 12 yards to give the Bears a 28-21 lead with 7:09 remaining.
Despite the momentum shift, Rummel only needed four plays before it tied things up again with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Fourcade to Hensley.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
“We just didn’t execute,” Fourcade said. “That’s the bottom line.”