It was physical and emotional. There were starring performances by top players and records set. There were big plays for others who don’t usually grab the headlines.
University High’s wild, come-from-behind 46-32 victory over Parkview Baptist in the Division II title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic on Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was everything fans expected when the schools became District 7-3A rivals last year.
“You have to take a minute to catch your breath,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “We did an awesome job and so did Parkview.”
The Cubs (13-0) overcame an early 14-0 deficit and five turnovers to claim the school’s first state title since winning a 1A crown in 1988. Friday’s victory also exorcised any demons from last year’s loss to John Curtis in the Division II title game.
LSU commitment Nick Brossette battled back from two first-half fumbles to set a score of records. He ran for a game-high 272 yards on 37 carries and scored three touchdowns. Both totals established composite/all-classes Prep Classic records. He was selected as U-High’s Outstanding Player.
Brossette pounded the Eagles (9-4) with 193 second-half yards and all three of his TDs. The totals also helped Brossette eclipse LSU running back Kenny Hilliard’s four-year total of 8,603 rushing yards. He finishes with 8,704 yards in five years and 154 TDs. Brossette’s 137 career rushing TDs over four seasons ranks sixth nationally.
“It feels great, just playing with this group of guys and my O-line,” Brossette said.
There were other stars, including Will Keller, who blocked three Parkview punts — one of which Dylan Moses recovered for a TD and another that led to a safety as the Cubs rallied to lead 16-14 at halftime.
“The first half, we felt good,” Parkview coach Jay Mayet said. “There were some things execution-wise with special teams that helped them get back in it. Once they got ahead, we tried things — whatever we could — and made some plays and kept it close.”
Houston Robert was the key playmaker for the Eagles. Robert, a Rice commitment, scored four TDs and finished with a team-high 63 rushing yards on 17 carries and also caught six passes for 156 yards. Robert was voted the Eagles’ Outstanding Player.
“(Quarterback Reggie Hayes) hit me with a pass at the start,” Robert said. “We made some things happen. I definitely think the effort was there.”
Both quarterbacks also played notable roles. Hayes, best known as a runner, completed 8 of 13 passes for 151 yards and three TDs. The Eagles executed a double pass in the second half with Hayes throwing to Jaylon Carlin, who tossed a 56-yard scoring pass to Robert. Parkview, a run-oriented option team, finished with four TD passes.
UHS quarterback Manny Miles overcame two first-half interceptions to finish 14 of 20 for 193 yards, including an 11-yard TD pass to Tre’ Jackson.
Parkview set the tone by opting for an onside kick to start the game. Kicker Wade Simmons recovered. The Eagles marched 48 yards for a somewhat unconventional score — at least by PBS standards.
When the teams played in Week 6, Parkview struggled to convert long yardage situations. On fourth-and-15, Hayes tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Carlin to make it 7-0.
U-High turned the ball over an uncharacteristic four times in the first half. Gabe Pedigo’s interception of Miles set up what few saw coming: more Parkview passing. First Hayes tossed a 31-yard pass to Robert. A 25-yard Hayes-to-Robert TD connection gave Parkview a 14-0 lead with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
Keller blocked two punts in the second quarter. Moses pounced on one for a TD, and the other went out of the back of the end zone to give U-High its 16-14 lead with 11 seconds left in the half.
Parkview didn’t fold. Hayes’ 30-yard TD pass to Robert gave the Eagles a 20-16 less three minutes into the second half.
Brossette scored twice on 5-yard runs to provide a little breathing room. Mahaffey said he never felt comfortable with the lead.
“I really didn’t feel like we had much separation,” Mahaffey said. “Parkview kept coming back.”