St. Thomas More showed their dominance on the defensive side of the ball Friday, defeating Plaquemine 51-16.
The top-ranked Cougars (3-0) recorded three interceptions against the Green Devils' offense, including Grant St. Cyr's pick-6 that gave STM a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.
Later in the period, the Cougars blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Jack Stefanski. STM closed its first-quarter scoring by recording a safety, which was initiated by Beau Moncla.
“Our defense played great, got a lot of turnovers tonight,” Hightower said. “I thought we hawked the ball pretty well, and I feel we tackled pretty well. We had a couple of busts but not very many. I am pleased with the effort.”
Offensively, it was business as usual for the Cougars. Quarterback Caleb Holstein completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 277 yards and four touchdowns. Carter Arceneaux was on the receiving end of two of those scores.
“I thought we executed pretty well," Hightower said. "I was happy with our passing game as well when we were able to protect. There were a couple of times where they were sending more than we could protect, and we were having trouble getting the ball to where we wanted to.
"But otherwise really pleased with the effort. I thought Caleb did a fine job, the running backs did a good job and the receivers did a good job.
The Green Devils (1-2) struggled offensively with their starting quarterback out, relying on backup quarterback Percy Jackson and running back Kobe Major to lead the charge. STM held Plaquemine to 220 yards of offense.
Green Devils coach Paul Distefano understood the challenge going into the game, realizing his team had lost the four previous matchups against the Cougars.
“We aren’t doing the little things right," Distefano said. "This is a very good club. We knew we would have to play mistake-free and have some things go our way honestly. They are much better than us. We are a young and inexperienced team.
"But I am proud of my guys for not throwing in the tank. We fought the whole way. We were just outmanned and outweighed, and we got a lot of work to do going forward.”
In the first quarter, Jackson threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jazz Provo to tie the game at seven, but STM outscored the Green Devils 30-0 through the rest of the period. Plaquemine's second touchdown didn't come until the fourth quarter, when Major found the end zone from 26 yards out. Major finished with 51 yards on 11 carries.
“Our starting quarterback was out, and I felt our backup did the best he could,” Distefano said. “Our receivers were not blocking. We just aren’t doing a lot of the little things right and the fundamentals.”
“We got our work cut out for us the next two weeks against (West St. John) and Central.”
The Cougars were penalized nine times for 29 yards, but Hightower felt that would be corrected before next week's matchup against Neville.
“That’s something we need to correct, but that’s what these games are for to get better," Hightower said. "We’ll watch the film tomorrow and get ready for a tough game next week.”