Jay Roth has had his share of Gatorade baths in his 21 seasons at Rummel.
Many of them, he admitted, he tried to avoid.
“I wasn’t going to run from this one,” a drenched Roth said Friday night. “I enjoyed it.”
This one, which came after a hard-fought 21-14 victory over Holy Cross at Tad Gormley Stadium, marked his 200th career win. All 200 have come at Rummel, making the milestone that much more special.
His wife, Karen, greeted him with a hug and a kiss moments afterwards. Then he posed for a picture with assistants Eddie Jaquillard and Joey Boh, who have been with him the whole time he has been there.
“I’ve had some good people around me,” Roth said. “I’ll start with Eddie Jaquillard and Joey Boh and then all the coaches who have come and gone. It takes players. I drive a bus. I vacuum the locker room. I cut the grass on the field. But I got guys who can coach and players who can play.”
On this night, it was the defense that led the way for the Raiders (5-1, 2-0 in District 9-5A), ranked No. 1 in both The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10 and the LSWA Class 5A poll.
“We’ve always won with defense at Rummel,” Roth said. “As an offensive coach, I may not be happy with 21 points, but it was enough to win the game. Our defense played well and has to carry us.”
Senior defensive back Kristian Fulton came up with one of the biggest plays, recording a third-down sack late as Holy Cross was trying to put together a potential game-tying drive.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Fulton said. “We want to dedicate every play to (Roth) because we know he works so hard during the season putting the game plan together.”
Roth, a 1981 grad, continued his dominance over Holy Cross. It was his 16th consecutive victory over the Tigers (4-2. 2-1), ranked 10th in the Super 10. His only loss came in 1995, his first season.
His latest victory helped him reach a milestone his players wanted to get for him.
“He’s like a second father to me,” senior quarterback Chase Fourcade said. “Throughout the week, he wasn’t even talking about it. We were playing for him the whole time. We play for him every time, but this one was really big for him and the school.”
It was Fourcade’s 22-yard touchdown pass to David Hensley with 10:40 left that proved to be the winner against a Tigers team that wouldn’t go away.
“We fought hard the whole game,” Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo said. “You just have to make a few more plays. Rummel is the real deal. You can’t make mistakes. We just have to learn to finish some things. We’ll be all right. We’ll bounce back.”
Rebaudo commended Roth, who he said has been like a mentor to him.
“Jay’s as good as they come,” Rebaudo said. “He’s a class-act guy and very much deserves it.”
Holy Cross, especially defensive back C.J. White, didn’t make it easy for the Raiders.
With the Tigers trailing 14-7, White blocked a punt, then scooped it up and scored to tie it on the first play of the fourth quarter.
He also blocked a Rummel field goal at the end of the first half that kept the score knotted at 7.
Rummel held Holy Cross to 137 yards in the first half.
Israel Tucker got the Raiders on the board first with a 3-yard touchdown run. It was the Raiders’ defense, an interception by Derrick Munson, that set up the score.
Holy Cross answered though, taking advantage of a muffed punt by Rummel.
One play later, freshman Chandler Fields completed a 63-yard strike to Bret Carter to tie it at 7 with three minutes left in the first half.
Fourcade scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to put the Raiders ahead 14-7 with 3:59 left in the third.
“We wanted it so bad for him,” said defensive lineman Briston Guidry, an Arkansas commit. “We know he has worked so hard for this.”