LAFAYETTE — Last year’s two games between University High and Teurlings Catholic were one-sided gunfights.
Not so much on Friday night, when the teams staged an old-fashioned shootout.
But once again, the Cubs had one extra bullet, and Nick Brossette capped a workhorse night with the game-deciding two-point conversion with 28 seconds left, lifting second-ranked University to a 36-35 win over the upset-minded Rebels Friday at Teurlings Stadium.
The Cubs (1-0), without the services of starting quarterback Manny Miles, drove 68 yards in 12 plays in the final 4:16, and sophomore Dylan Moses powered across from three yards out to pull the Cubs within 35-34.
Miles, who suffered an apparent sprained ankle on his eight-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, was unavailable to try a potential tying kick conversion. So after two time outs, Cubs coach Chad Mahaffey called Brossette’s number right up the middle of the Teurlings defense, and he easily got into the end zone for his second two-point conversion run.
“Our guys just absolutely stepped up,” Mahaffey said. “We had so many things that we prepared for, but so many things we couldn’t prepare for. It was an unbelievable team effort ... one of the best I’ve ever been involved in.”
And even at that, it wasn’t over until TCHS junior kicker Brayden Blanchard pulled a 39-yard field goal wide right with one second left.
The Rebels took a 35-28 lead with 9:54 left when quarterback Cole Kelley led a 65-yard, nine-play march and hit Nate Arceneaux with a 21-yard pass across the middle for the go-ahead score after Blanchard’s extra point. TCHS stopped one Cub drive at midfield on Hunter Venable’s fourth-down sack of Cub backup quarterback Jalon Baker with 6:54 left, but the Rebels couldn’t get a key first down and came up short on a fourth down at the Cub 33 to give the visitors the final opportunity.
“They (University) did what they had to do,” Rebels coach Sonny Charpentier said. “Our execution wasn’t what it had to be. We didn’t like looking at what happened last year, but tonight was a competition. I’m still proud of our kids.”
Teurlings (0-1) had lost 41-15 to the Cubs in last year’s season opener in Baton Rouge and lost to University 55-30 in the regional round of last year’s Division II select playoffs. In both of those games, the Cubs took control early, but that didn’t happen this time.
In fact, the Rebels put up two scores and kept University’s offense bottled up in the first quarter, with Sage LeBlanc’s 23-yard halfback pass to Arceneaux and Baylor Thompson’s six-yard run providing the hosts with a 14-0 lead nine minutes into the game. At that point, the Cubs had a total of no first downs and six offensive yards in two possessions.
Miles engineered two second-quarter scoring drives, finishing one with a one-yard sneak and hitting Malik Antoine from seven yards out 37 seconds before halftime that pulled University within 21-14.
Kelley, though, hit LeBlanc for a 27-yard score in between, and it only took the Rebels 27 seconds to counter when Kelley hit a streaking Grant LeGrange over the middle for a 33-yard score and a 28-14 halftime lead.
The Cubs claimed the second of three Rebel turnovers in the opening three minutes of the second half when Kelley was picked off by Antoine, who returned it 37 yards to the Teurlings 23. Miles scrambled right for the eight-yard score six plays later to cut it to 28-20, but he left the game and did not return after his extra point attempt was blocked.
Baylor Thompson’s fumble at the Cub 31 gave University possession again on the next drive, and Baker scrambled 28 yards just before the end of the third quarter. Brossette, who finished with 150 rush yards, ran in the two-point conversion that tied the game.