Shaw running back Trey Ragas was as good as advertised.
Quarterback Matt Keller showed that the Eagles have a solid passing game as well.
But in the end, Thibodaux’s potent running game proved to be too much for Shaw.
Shaw surrendered 428 rushing yards and dropped it season opener 35-30 to Thibodaux on Thursday night Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
“We couldn’t tackle good enough to win the game,” Shaw coach Scott Bairnsfather said. “We played well enough on offense to win the game. Their offensive line blocked us well enough for them to win and for us to lose.”
Thibodaux scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:01 left when quarterback Peyton Bonvillian scored from 6 yards out, capping a 14-play, 87 yard drive. Much like they had done all game long, the Tigers didn’t throw a single pass on the game-winning drive.
“If we had to throw the ball, we were going to do it, but ultimately we wanted to shove it down their throat,” said Bonvillian, who rushed for 114 yards on 15 carries.
The Tigers threw just nine passes in the game, and just one in the second half.
They didn’t need to.
Senior running back Jaquan Chenier was the workhorse, rushing 38 times for 208 yards.
“We had to play 48 minutes to win this one,” said Thibodaux coach Chris Dugas, in his fourth season. “We couldn’t play 47 minutes and win this one.”
Shaw had one last chance, driving to Thibodaux’s 46 yard line with less than a minute left. But Tigers’ defensive back Amik Robertson picked off a Keller pass to seal it.
“We faced a lot of adversity against a really good team,” Dugas said. “Trey Ragas is a really good player. Matt Keller is a really good player. Those guys are good and are going to win a lot of ballgames.”
It was the second season opening win for the Tigers over the Eagles after winning 27-14 last season.
This time, it was just too much of Chenier and Co.
“Jaquan is just an animal,” said Dugas. “We told him we were just going to keep giving it to him and he would have to take it home for us. He was battling some cramps, but he and Peyton are the guys we lean on. We gave it to him and he delivered.”
Ragas, one of the state’s top juniors, rushed 20 times for 108 yards and touchdown runs of 9 and 10 yards.
Keller completed 12 of 19 passes for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 19-yarder to Patrick Allen with 11:48 left that put Shaw ahead 30-21.
But it wasn’t enough, despite building a 20-14 halftime lead.
Thibodaux scored first on its second possession of the game when Bonvillian broke several tackles on a 39-yard run.
Shaw answered though less than a minute later when Ragas rumbled in on a 9-yard run with 6:06 left in the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 47-yard pass play from Keller to Jordan Ortega.
The Tigers were driving to regain the lead on their next possession, but Shaw’s Juawana Gray intercepted a Trey Leblanc pass near the goal line.
Shaw took its first lead in the second quarter when Kelly connected with Bryson Simmons on a 42-yard pass play.
Thibodaux responded, putting together a 13-play (all runs), 80-yard drive capped by Bonvillian’s 1-yard run.
But Shaw scored just before the half on a Ragas 1-yard run to regain the lead to end the first half scoring.
Shaw plays at Fisher on Sept. 12 in the first of back-to-back road games before playing South Lafourche on Sept. 19.
Thibodaux hosts Vandebilt Catholic on Sept. 12.