Rummel’s Chase Fourcade was having what he characterized as one of his “worst games ever” before his team’s final drive of Saturday’s game.
Making matters even worse, it was happening in what many considered the biggest game of the regular season: the highly-anticipated showdown against John Curtis, the schools’ first meeting in 51 years.
Fourcade had thrown for fewer than 100 yards and had turned the ball over four times, but the Raiders defense handed the senior quarterback the ball with 6 minutes left and a seven-point lead — and he knew he had his shot to make up for it all.
He did just that, leading his team to four straight first downs (two passing, two running) to milk the clock and secure a 21-14 win at Joe Yenni Stadium in the Catholic League battle that lived up to all the hype.
“After my last fumble, I felt like I let Curtis back in the game,” said Fourcade, a Nicholls State commitment. “I had to do my job. My job as the quarterback is to get us first downs and touchdowns when we need them.”
Rummel (8-1, 5-0), ranked No. 1 in both The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10 and in the LSWA’s Class 5A poll, secured its second straight District 9-5A title and has an opportunity to lock up a second straight undefeated season in district play with a win over St. Augustine next week.
It’s the first time since 1974 that the Patriots (6-2, 3-2) have lost two district games in the same season.
It’s Curtis’ first year playing in the Catholic League after electing to play up in Class 5A this season. The Patriots, ranked No. 3 in the Super 10 and No. 4 in the LSWA’s 5A poll, had reeled off 38 consecutive district wins before this season.
“I’m very happy because it’s a brutal district,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said about repeating as Catholic League champs. “But winning against a great team and a great program like Curtis just makes it special.”
After going into halftime with the score tied at 7, Rummel came out with a statement drive to open the second half. The Raiders marched 82 yards in 10 plays, highlighted by a 47-yard catch by David Moseley and ending with a 4-yard touchdown snag by David Hensley to put the Raiders up 14-7.
On Curtis’ next possession, Rummel linebacker Derrick Munson ripped the ball from the hands of Curtis running back Darryan Washington and ran to the Curtis 1-yard line before being tackled. Raiders running back Israel Tucker dove across the line a play later to give Rummel a 21-7 lead with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
Fourcade completed 8 of his 12 passes for 106 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tucker had 17 carries for 64 yards and a score.
The Patriots used some big plays from their defense to close the deficit in the fourth quarter, though.
Cornerback Taj Bickham intercepted a pass and returned it to the Rummel 30-yard line, allowing his team to score seven plays later on a Tyrone Chevalier 8-yard run. It was the fourth pick of the season for Bickham.
On the ensuing drive, Curtis recovered a fumbled snap by Fourcade and recovered it at the Rummel 29 with an opportunity to tie the score midway through the fourth quarter. The Patriots, facing fourth-and-5, ran a screen play to Devon Benn, but the senior running back tripped over one of his offensive lineman and fell short of the first down.
Benn had 14 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots, who recognized their 1975 state championship team during halftime. That 1975 team was the first state title team in Curtis’ storied history. They’ve won 25 more state titles since then under J.T. Curtis, the nation’s winngest active coach with 546 career wins.
Win No. 547 will have to wait another day.
“It was a hard-fought game that went down to the wire,” Curtis said. “You have to give Rummel credit. They’re an awfully good defensive football team.”
Rummel improved to 2-0 all-time against Curtis after also beating the Patriots 26-0 win in 1964.
The teams could possibly meet again in November in the playoffs, but Roth wasn’t thinking ahead to those possibilities.
“I’m just going to enjoy this one, and I’d like to finish strong next week,” Roth said.