Sam Trosclair kept his head down and never looked up.
Chances are, he wouldn’t have quite been able to see it anyway as nightfall crept over Metairie.
Trosclair’s 38-yard field goal sailed into the darkness and through the uprights, giving Houma Christian a stunning 32-29 victory over Country Day in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“It feels like a dream,” Trosclair said. “I knew I made it when everyone started screaming. I just waited for the crowd to tell me.”
The victory helped Houma Christian (6-4, 5-1) land a playoff spot by virtue of forcing a tie in the District 9-1A standings.
“I don’t know if there is a word in the dictionary that describes this feeling,” said Houma Christian coach Chuck Battaglia. “Belief. Faith. Trust. We told the kids all week to play every play to exhaustion.”
Country Day (7-3, 5-1), meanwhile, heads into the Division IV playoffs with a two-game losing streak after the heartbreaking loss.
“We didn’t do enough to win,” said Country Day coach Richard Wood. “What can you say. We just have to get ready for the playoffs now.”
The Cajuns entered the game as the No. 8 seed in the power rankings, but that may change when the playoff pairings are announced.
But they didn’t have an answer for Houma Christian quarterback Drake Battaglia, the coach’s son.
Battaglia rushed for 141 yards and a touchdowns. Many of those yards coming on broken plays that saw him scramble in the pocket and escape what looked like sure sacks.
He also completed 15 of 22 passes for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“We just couldn’t contain the quarterback,” Wood said. “We knew he was good. He does that all the time. He causes a lot of people problem. You have to try to corral him, but we weren’t able to do that.”
Early on, it didn’t look as if Houma Christian would need any late game heroics.
The Warriors led 14-0, scoring on their first two possessions. The first touchdown came on Battaglia’s 6-yard pass to Damien Pennison. It capped off a 7-play 55-yard drive.
On the first play of the second quarter, Battaglia struck again, this time connecting with his brother Devin Battaglia for a 7-yard score.
“We started slow,” Wood said.
But his Cajuns didn’t take long to get back in it.
On the ensuing possession, Country Day went 48 yards in six plays. Jack White finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run..
Trey Harrell set up the next touchdown for the Cajuns with an interception, helping Country Day snatch momentum away from Houma Christian, which had just recovered a fumble and returned into Cajuns’ territory.
Morgan Farrell’s drilled a 7-yard pass to Brett Leal to tie it right before the half. Farrell completed 7-of-13 passes for 105 yards.
The team’s traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with Battaglia scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. It was set up by clutch fourth down flea flicker when Battaglia completed a 38-yard pass to Je’coire Ward.
Country Day’ responded though, tying it with Jase Griffin’s 8-yard run.
The fourth quarter was much of the same, with Houma scoring and Country Day answering. This time it was a 15-yard run by Battaglia, followed by John Broussard’s 2-point conversion that gave Houma Christian a 29-21 lead. But Griffin scored his second touchdown with 3:37 left and ran in the conversion to tie it at 29. Griffin, who came into the game with 1,017 yards and 18 touchdowns, finished with 17 carries for 178 yards
The Warriors had one last chance to beat the Cajuns (and nightfall), taking over at their own 35 with 3:30 left. They milked the clock, going nine plays before setting up the game-winner for Trosclair, who had missed an extra point earlier.
But this time he was clutch, kicking the longest field goal of his career.
“We felt like we had never played a complete game all season and if we did, we knew we had an opportunity,” said Battaglia, the Warriors’ coach. “This was our only shot to get to the playoffs. We were confident in Sam. “You can’t ask for a better ending. As soon as it left his foot, when I saw how high and straight it was, I knew it was good. What can you say about a high school kid making it under that kind of pressure.”