LAFAYETTE - Quarterback Brandon Bergeron received help from some familiar weapons when he and his top-ranked St. Thomas More teammates trailed by a touchdown entering the fourth quarter against Northside High Friday night.
The STM offensive line and running game - practically dormant for third quarters - took over the game in the final nine minutes to defeat host NHS 36-20 in a key District 5-4A game.
STM gained 113 yards on the ground that helped erase a 20-14 Northside lead as the Cougars (7-0) improved to 2-0 in district, while Northside dropped to 4-3 and 1-1 in league play.
Was Bergeron worried about the six-point deficit?
“Not at all. We were very confident about our situation,” Bergeron said. “This year we are used to being down, but I knew our run game was going to come around and our offensive line started opening up the holes.
“This is a very close team and we have played together for a long time. I thought we held together when we had to.”
Bergeron also did his part, throwing for 208 yards and three touchdowns, then running for the Cougars’ final score.
Two of the TD passes fell into the hands of wide receiver Andrew Stevenson, on throws of 67 and 26 yards.
Stevenson caught seven for 141 yards.
STM coach Jim Hightower gave his team credit for continuing to find a way to win, in this case, the Cougars’ 17th straight regular season win.
“We just kept banging on that wall. I’m proud of our effort, especially because we kept on hanging in there. I think we turned things around when we got a defensive stop late and then these kids just took over and brought it over the wall,” Hightower said.
Northside took a 20-14 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter when tailback Kevin Johnson scored on a 7-yard run, ending a 67-yard drive that started with Deion Ben’s interception of Bergeron.
Vikings quarterback Jasper Turner completed a 39-yard pass to wide receiver Monkurvis Irvin that placed the ball and the Cougars 1.
Following a penalty, Johnson bolted over to score.
Turner and starter Traven Lemelle threw for 301 yards. Vondavious Breaux caught five for 105 yards, Diland Guilbeau had four catches for 109 and Irvin had six receptions for 61 yards.
NHS coach Vincent DeRouen said he team’s momentum seemed to crumble in the final period.
“We sort of fell apart there at the end and things didn’t go our way. (STM) like we knew they would, just kept playing. That’s their style and it worked for them,” DeRouen said.
STM started its comeback with a 60-yard drive in four plays that ended when Stevenson caught the 26-yard pass (9:14).
The Cougars running game contributed to the next TD. STM took just three plays on this drive, with Matt Flores breaking a 12-yard run. Then Patrick Scott broke loose on a 32-yard counter play in which he headed past the goal line untouched (6:19).
Scott and Flores combined for 24 yards on the next TD drive (65 yards, three plays). Then Bergeron took it 21 yards on a run for the final touchdown (2:35).
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams traded touchdowns for the rest of the initial half and entered the intermission deadlocked at 14.
Gil Padgett’s 21-yard reception with 10:15 remaining was the game’s first score.
Northside came back two possessions later with a 90-yard drive that ended when Turner passed 14 yards to Breaux. The Vikings missed the first of two extra point kicks during the game and trailed by a point.
On the game’s next series, Bergeron hit Stevenson on a crossing route and then Stevenson did the rest, outrunning the Vikings’ secondary on the 67-yard scoring pass.
The Vikings scored with 34 seconds left in the half on Turner’s two-yard run, ending an 80-yard possession. Johnson’s two-point conversion run tied the game.
NHS finished with 194 rushing yards, with Turner and Johnson combining for 123.