It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but Mandeville did enough to beat Holy Cross 24-20 in a season-opening, nondistrict game Friday at their own Sidney Theriot Stadium.
The Skippers totaled 265 yards of offense and committed eight penalties. But when they needed a big play, they got it.
The winning score came with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter when Connor Lockhart ran through the heart of the Tigers’ defense for an 8-yard touchdown. The ensuing PAT put Mandeville up by four points and Holy Cross didn’t threaten again.
Holy Cross had scored 20 consecutive points to end the first half.
“Experience is what you need and this team got some tonight,” Mandeville coach Guy Lecompte said. “There are some things to work on with penalties and that, but I saw some good things tonight.”
The Skippers opened with a flourish — marching 65 yards in 10 plays. Cody Orgeron threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Parker Orgeron, with 7:50 remaining in the first quarter. The throw and catch, to the right pylon, was punctuated by a PAT by Joe Boulivas which gave Mandeville a 7-0 lead.
Mandeville didn’t wait long to strike again. After Maghee McMullen recovered a fumble at the Holy Cross 37, Cody Orgeron handed off to Darren Steele on what appeared would be a running play. Steele threw to Guy Lecompte Jr. in the end zone, however, and the 25-yard strike increased the Mandeville lead.
Mandeville’s next possession resulted in a 44-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by the Tigers’ Kyle Meyers. He gathered the block and raced 50 yards to the end zone to close the score to 14-6. A two-point run failed, but the block shifted momentum to Holy Cross’ side.
The Tigers came back with an impressive 98-yard drive to score again. Freshman quarterback Chandler Fields threw a 21-yard pass to Bret Carter, who was streaking down the left sideline, for a score. Gavin Broussard kicked his second PAT to make the score 14-13.
Mandeville recovered an onside kick on the ensuing possession and got to the Tigers’ 4-yard line. The Skippers settled for a 21-yard field goal by Boulivas to get to within four points at 17-13.
With time running out in the first half, Fields found Carter again for another 21-yard touchdown — again on the left side. The PAT gave the Tigers a 20-17 halftime lead.
The third quarter moved much more quickly than the first two, with both teams relying on their running games. Mandeville got the upper hand with 2:08 remaining in the quarter when Boulivas (subbing for an injured Orgeron,) handed off to Lockhart for the decisive score. The following PAT put Mandeville ahead 24-20, and capped a nine-play, 93-yard drive.
Holy Cross was without the services of starting quarterback Kyle Schexnayder and starting running back Tre Turner. But Tigers’ coach Eric Rebaudo was pleased with the effort of Fields and Ashton Smith. Fields finished 8-for-14 for 125 yards. He threw two touchdowns (to Carter) and was intercepted once. Smith ran 26 times for 88 yards.
“Credit to Mandeville,” Rebaudo said. “We had to catch up to the speed of the game. I thought the consistency on both sides of the ball (wasn’t constant). ... We just have to go back and work on some things. But I like our guys. I think Chandler played lights out, and Ashton just ran the ball really well.”