LAFAYETTE — It took St. Thomas More a half to get its offense specifically, to get William Bellamy rolling.
It helped that the junior Cougars quarterback had Tiger Bech back in action.
The STM receiver had been sidelined with an injury for three weeks and hadn’t figured on playing that much Friday night in the regular-season finale against Breaux Bridge. But he entered the game in the second quarter and ended up with two touchdown catches to spark the Cougars to a comeback 25-7 victory in their District 5-4A clash.
Bellamy completed 30-of-48 passes for 315 yards, 215 of those coming in the second half after the visiting Tigers had taken a 7-6 halftime lead. In the second half, 12 of his 17 completions went for double-figure yardage and two of them went to Bech for 15 and 5-yard touchdowns.
“We were able to take advantage when we had chances,” Bellamy said of the second half. “We had the ball five times in the red zone in the first half and got one score. It makes a big difference having Tiger and Trevor (Begue) back.”
The win virtually locks up a first-round bye in the Division I select playoffs for the Cougars (9-1, 5-1), who were fourth in the power rankings entering the final week. The top four teams in Division I get a bye in the opening round.
“That’s big for us,” STM coach Jim Hightower said of the bye. “We wanted to get those guys in the game a little if we could, and I think that’ll make them better two weeks from now. It makes a huge difference having them in there.”
Breaux Bridge (6-3, 4-2) will hope for a first-round home game in the Class 4A nonselect bracket when the playoff pairings are announced Sunday.
The Tigers defense rose to the occasion over and over in the first half, when STM had five possessions inside BBHS territory and scored once — and that came after a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a field goal gave the Cougars life at the Tiger 4 early in the second quarter. One play later, Deuce Wallace went across from four yards out for a 6-0 lead after the conversion was blocked.
Breaux Bridge had its only solid drive midway through that period, going 86 yards on 10 plays before quarterback Drake Guidry scored from 1 yard out for the 7-6 lead.
The rest of the game, though, the Tigers managed only one first down, and none after the seven-minute mark of the third quarter.
“That was a super job by our defense,” Hightower said. “There was a lot of gang tackling out there and we had to do that because that’s a good offensive team over there. But there was a lot of one-on-one tackling and our guys didn’t miss a lot of those.”
Bellamy drove the Cougars 62 yards after the second-half kickoff and appeared to hit Griffin Hebert with a 3-yard scoring pass to end the march but a chop-block penalty moved the ball to the Tigers 31. On third and goal from there, though, Bellamy hit Alex Hannie with an arcing touchdown pass on the back line of the end zone to give STM the lead for good.
On the next two series, Bellamy found Bech with the clinching scoring passes.
“Those are my guys,” Bellamy said. “With them back in there, it gives us a lot of options.
“The guys that stepped in for them stepped up, though.”