When it came time to add to that to that total Friday night the Tigers dug into their archives for another time-honored tradition.
Top-seeded Neville relied on old-style ground game, often lining up in a single-wing, and a physical defense that set the foundation for a 16-7 win over fourth-seeded Breaux Bridge in a Class 4A state semifinal.
“That’s what we anticipated coming down here,” Neville coach Mickey McCarty said. “Breaux Bridge football’s a lot like Neville in one sense. These teams are physical and play extremely hard; lot of pride when they step on the field and great support for both schools.”
Neville (13-0) faces seventh-seeded Karr, a 20-7 winner over third-seeded Lutcher, for the Class 4A state championship at 7 p.m. next Friday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Monroe-based Tigers will be in search of the school’s 10th title and second in three years.
“Neville did a good job of running the ball against us,” Breaux Bridge football coach Paul Broussard said. “They ate up a lot of the clock and we didn’t have as many opportunities as we would’ve liked to have.”
Neville took a 10-7 lead to halftime, then added more points on the right leg of place-kicker Ronaldo Guerreiro, who booted field goals of 32 and 27 yards in the second half and had three overall.
That proved to be more than enough cushion because of Neville’s defense, which limited Breaux Bridge to 132 total yards — including 89 yards rushing on 30 carries. It was the eighth time this season NHS held an opponent to a touchdown or less.
Breaux Bridge (12-2), which had a six-game winning streak snapped, averaged 42 points during the playoffs but only had a 9-yard scoring run from LSU commitment Travin Dural in the second quarter. Running back Josh Faulk had a team-best 33 yards on seven carries.
Quarterback Randall Menard felt the wrath of Neville’s attacking-style of defense and completed only 3 of 15 passes for 43 yards and was intercepted twice. He threw 11 straight incomplete passes, including the interceptions, until midway through the fourth quarter when Dural caught two passes for 45 yards.
“We were able to match up with them and got a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” said McCarty, whose team forced three turnovers. “It was just good team defense. They just played their hearts out.”
Breaux Bridge’s defensive unit, featuring LSU commitment Lamar Louis, held down a Neville offense that had generated 42 points per game during the playoffs. The visitors turned to a time-consuming ground game that resulted in 42 carries for 183 yards.
Quarterback John Diarse, who also had both interceptions off Menard from his safety position, led Neville with 17 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker-turned-running back Ricky Wyatt, a 220-pound senior, added 64 yards on eight attempts.
Neville accounted for the final score with 5:21 remaining on Guerrerio’s third field goal of the game, which came at the end of a 59-yard drive and took nearly six minutes off the clock. He had identical 32-yard efforts — the first one breaking a 7-7 tie with 39 seconds left before halftime; the latter coming within the first minute of the fourth quarter.
LSU commitment Kavahra Holmes provided Breaux Bridge with good field position following a 46-yard kickoff return to Neville’s 34 after Guerrerio’s second field goal, but the visitors lost 15 yards on four plays and turned the ball over.
Breaux Bridge had a similar situation arise in the first half after trailing 10-7. Kick returner Josh Williams was brought down from behind by Jacob Cobb after a 48-yard return to Neville’s 38-yard line, only to have the NHS defense hold and force Menard’s second interception, which Diarse returned for 52 yards before being run out of bounds on the final play of the first half.
“We had our chances in the first half and second half,” Broussard said. “When you’re playing a team the caliber of Neville in the semifinals, you have to take advantage of every chance you have, and they did.”