METAIRIE — Rummel High School scored early and late, but the 11th-hour score was enough to transport the No. 1 seed from its Seven Avenue campus to Poydras Street for next weekend’s State Farm Prep Classic.
Rummel place-kicker Zachary Pilet kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:44 remaining and teammate Damarius Crawford followed with a game-sealing interception as Rummel staved off Mandeville 17-14 Friday night before a capacity crowd of 7,500 fans at Joe Yenni Stadium.
The Class 5A semifinal victory advances Rummel (13-0) to the state title game next Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against Barbe of Lake Charles, which rallied to oust West Monroe 49-48. Each school will be seeking its first state football championship.
At the outset of the fourth quarter, Mandeville (10-3) tied the game at 14-14 on a quick, four-play, 53-yard drive. Quarterback Glen Cuiellette hit Zacary Tircuit with a short pass that Tircuit turned into a 22-yard score that trimmed the Rummel lead to 14-12. Cuiellete then connected with Parker Orgeron for the two-point conversion which tied the game with 11:25 to play.
On Rummel’s next possession, quarterback Damian Williams used a play fake to free Cethan Carter for a 57-yard pass at the goal line but the big tight end bobbled the ball and could not retain possession.
The combination of Cuiellette, a junior, and wide receiver Zach Boudreaux, gave the Rummel defense fits all night.
Boudreaux caught eight passes for 144 yards from Cuiellette, who completed 14 of 30 passes for 221 yards with two interceptions. Williams was 6 of 13 for 99 yards with one interception.
Williams’ 57-yard completion to Steven Dunbar on Rummel’s fourth play highlighted a 77-yard drive that ended with Williams hitting Keron Castillo for a 12-yard score and a 7-0 lead at the 9-minute mark.
Four plays later, Rummel linebacker Michael Kennedy intercepted a pass, and his 10-yard return led to a scoring drive. On the second snap, Williams broke free on the left side and rushed 38 yards for a 14-0 lead at 6:44.
“After those drives, it was turnovers and penalties,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “We could never get back in a groove. The change in momentum was unbelievable.”
A 29-yard completion from Cuiellette to Boudreaux keyed a 67-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard field goal by Drew Graham at 2:52 of the second quarter. In the third period, Mandeville had a drive stall at the Rummel 13-yard line. After a 5-yard penalty, Graham again was true to cut the margin to 14-6 at the 9:11 mark.
Two possessions later, one of the night’s most controversial plays took place when Williams hit Dunbar on a deep slant from the Rummel 33-yard line inside the Mandeville 10-yard line with 2:24 remaining in the half. A flag was thrown, and the Raiders were penalized for offensive interference, a call that left Roth livid and left Dunbar sidelined with an apparent broken collarbone. Another pass that resulted in a touchdown to Keith Fulton was called back because of holding.
“It was not pretty out there,” Roth said. “But we managed to do it on the last drive and Zach has been money all year.”
“They just beat us,” Mandeville coach Guy LeCompte said.
Rummel had eight penalties for 62 yards; the Skippers had five flags for 37 yards. Rummel punted six times, Mandeville punted five. Fulton, who carried nine times on the 76-yard, game-winning drive, finished with 104 yards on 19 carries.
Barbe last appeared in the state title game in 1980, losing in Lake Charles 15-8 to East St. John, which was coached by current Rummel Athletic Director Phil Greco. Rummel lost to West Monroe 30-0 in the championship game in 2009.