The 48th football meeting between Chalmette and Holy Cross was not a game for the meek of heart.
A frenetic second half was culminated by Douglas Saavedra’s successful 38-yard field goal with six minutes, 42 seconds remaining that carried Chalmette to a 23-21 nondistrict victory against one of its staunchest rivals.
The victory that featured scoring passes of 63 and 72 yards from quarterback Jason Roper to wide receiver Gabriel Ernest was Chalmette’s first victory against Holy Cross since 2011 and represented only the Owls’ 12th win of the series.
Saavedra’s field goal came one year after he had a potential winning field goal blocked in the final two minutes and returned for a touchdown in a 31-22 Holy Cross victory.
Chalmette, 2-1, won its second straight outing while sending Holy Cross to its second consecutive defeat. The visiting Tigers still hold a commanding 33-12-3 lead in the series that began in 1967.
Roper completed 12 of 14 attempts for 252 yards and the touchdowns to Ernest without being intercepted. Ernest totaled six catches for 185 yards, including a 35-yard catch that set up Michaund Blaise’s 1-yard run for Chalmette’s third touchdown.
“It was a hell of game,” Roper said. “It was a battle back and forth. I kept telling my guys that we’ve got to keep grinding and we’re going to pull it out. I knew it was going to be a battle coming in and it was.”
Roper and Ernest’s fireworks offset a 223-yard rushing effort by Holy Cross tailback Landen Bates, who scored all three of the Tigers touchdowns on runs of 4, 11 and 12 yards.
Bates’ 12-yard run had given Holy Cross a 21-20 advantage with 38 seconds remaining in the third period after Chalmette had scored consecutive touchdowns to take a 20-14 lead.
Although the final period’s only scoring came on Saavedra’s field goal, it did include two Holy Cross fumbles, the second of which came from Chalmette’s 11-yard line and gave the Owls possession for the final 2:43 in which Chalmette was able to run out the remainder of the clock.
“A lot of these games have been close over the years,” Chalmette coach Jason Tucker said. “It was about time that we made enough plays to win. This a rivalry that always means something. All of these games are so close. We both had a little extra pep in our step tonight.”
Holy Cross had a five-game winning streak against their rivals broken.
“Chalmette deserves all of the credit in the world,” said Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo, who sustained his first loss against the Owls to fall to 3-1. “They out-played us offensively, defensively and on special teams. And they out-coached us.
“We didn’t play well. We didn’t prepare well. We had a lot of distractions this week. We were undisciplined this week and didn’t handle things the right way. We’re going to have to do a lot better next week in opening district play.”
Both teams open district play next week with Chalmette playing host to Grace King in District 8-5A action and Holy Cross heading to the West Bank to face Shaw in District 9-5A competition scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
The Owls struck for two third-quarter touchdowns in a span 31 seconds to take a brief 20-14 lead. Roper and Ernest connected for their second long scoring pass, a 72-yarder, and then teamed for a 35-yard completion to set up Blaise’s 1-yard touchdown run that produced a 20-14 Chalmette lead.
Bates and the visiting Tigers needed just three plays to break free from a 7-7 tie at intermission. The Holy Cross senior running back bolted 55 yards on the first play of the second period and then finished the 63-yard drive two plays later with an 11-yard scoring run on a delay up the middle that Nolan Heitmeier followed with his second PAT kick.
Bates’ three carries accounted for 63 yards and increased his game total to 168 yards on 17 attempts that included a -
The teams each scored second-quarter touchdowns in playing to a 7-7 tie at intermission.
The Tigers Tigers rallied from a 7-0 deficit by driving 80 yards to score on Bates’ 4-yard run and Heitmeier’s PAT kick with five minutes, one second remaining until halftime.
Bates accounted for 69 yards on seven carries during the 11-play possession. The touchdown came two plays after the Tigers running back had a 2-yard scoring run negated by a penalty.
The normally run-oriented Owls struck first in uncharacteristic fashion when Jason Roper found wide receiver Gabriel Ernest on a deep pass down the middle that carried for a 63-yard touchdown. Douglas Saavedra kicked the PAT for the 7-0 advantage.
Saavedra also had a 51-yard field goal attempt near the end of the second period that was landed short and left of the goal posts. Chalmette’s senior kicked a 51-yard field goal in last week’s 51-20 victory at Bogalusa.
The teams were equally close in first-half yardage with Chalmette holding a 151-123 advantage. Roper completed 7 of 8 passes for 120 of Chalmette’s yards while Bates piled up 105 of the Tigers yardage on 14 carries.