OPELOUSAS — It didn’t take long for matters to get out of hand.
Whatever adjustments Lafayette made at halftime Thursday night were significant enough to inject a final shot of momentum, as the Lions scored three third-quarter touchdowns in less than six minutes that helped them defeat Opelousas 40-7 at Donald Gardner Stadium.
Lafayette coach Jay Domengeaux said he left matters up to his defensive assistants at halftime.
Whatever plan was devised during the intermission was evidently effective, Domengeaux said.
“I left the defense alone and I stayed in the corner with my offense. I’m sure (the defense) did some things that obviously worked,” said Domengeaux, whose team is 2-0.
Opelousas (1-1) pulled to within a touchdown at 14-7 with 3:26 remaining before halftime. That was, however, the offensive pinnacle for the Tigers.
Things changed on the ensuing Lafayette possession, as the Lions went 60 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 22-yard pass from quarterback Tre Celestine to wide receiver Jaylon Price.
Domengeaux said Price’s catch made behind an Opelousas defender with eight seconds left helped ignite the Lions’ performance for the remainder of the game.
“That touchdown really helped us,” Domengeaux said. “It gave us a boost coming out into the second half. Before that we were making too many mistakes.”
In the third period, the Lions limited Opelousas to minus 1 yard rushing, while Opelousas quarterback Ke’Andre Jones was intercepted twice.
One of those picks was converted into a 28-yard touchdown return by Lions defensive back Archie Ducote, who scored the game’s final points with 6:07 left in the third period.
Domengeaux said the Lions’defense has played an important role at keeping Lafayette undefeated.
“It (the defense) has been a big, big difference for us,” he said.
“The thing I’m most happy with about the defense is that we’re aggressive.”
While the defense held Opelousas to 148 rushing yards, the Lions offense rolled up 274 yards rushing.
Lafayette running back Keshawn Young ran 15 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Celestine gained 58 on seven attempts.
Celestine and Price connected for two touchdowns. The final touchdown pass for the pair came in the third period at the 6:44 mark when Price caught a 24-yard Celestine throw on a pattern that was similar to the second-quarter touchdown catch.
Jones was the leading Opelousas rusher (12-70), while running back Collins Roberts gained 57 on 12 attempts.
Roberts carried only once in the second half, for a loss of 3 yards.
Opelousas coach Quentin Payne said the two touchdown throws came against a young secondary.
“The guys we had covering at corners tonight were both sophomores, so they’re learning,” Payne said. “Overall I have to be pleased with the defense.”
Young’s first TD came on the opening possession when he ended a 40-yard, five-play drive that followed a 16-yard punt.
The Lions scored again in the second quarter with 10:12 remaining when Lafayette traveled 77 yards in 10 plays. Celestine had the key play on the drive, carrying 36 yards for a first down to the Tigers’ 8.
Dionte Duperon scored on a 5-yard run.
Opelousas’ only touchdown drive consumed over six minutes and stretched 80 yards and 18 plays.
The Lions contributed to the score with a pair of penalties, while Jones completed three passes to wide receiver Darius Berard for 29 yards.
Jones scored on a 4-yard keeper.