Parkview Baptist scored its fifth state championship while taking down an old stereotype.
The Eagles can play from behind at crunch time — and they can throw the ball to do so.
Parkview Baptist senior quarterback Reggie Hayes, who put on a dazzling display with his feet, showed he can throw when needed, completing a 47-yard catch-and-run to Jacob Ruffin with 1:44 left for the go-ahead touchdown.
And then defensive back Kaleb Meaux came up with his second interception of the game, the latter with 1:08 left, to help No. 4 seed Parkview Baptist seal a 24-21 victory over No. 2 St. Thomas More for the Division II select state championship in Friday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“I saw (Jacob) Ruffin wide open,” Hayes said. “I knew if I got the ball out there, he would make the play. I trust him that much.”
Hayes’ fifth completion — all in the second half — found Ruffin near the boundary in front of St. Thomas More’s sideline. Sam O’Brien’s block provided Ruffin with all the room he needed for the fifth lead change and second in two minutes.
STM (10-3) picked up a first down when Meaux stepped in front of William Bellamy’s pass that was intended for Parker Powell at the Cougars’ 43 with 1:08 remaining.
STM had one final possession, when the game ended at its 24-yard line.
“We told them not to leave the locker room with any regrets,” Parkview coach Jay Mayet said. “I thought we were a little bit passive in the first half. I thought we were aggressive in the second half and played the way we play.”
Parkview (10-3), which fell to District 6-3A rival University High in last year’s final, ended its season on a six-game winning streak. It was the Eagles’ fifth state crown in six trips and first since 2012.
“Last year, we got here and didn’t finish the job,” Hayes said. “We got back here and wanted to make it happen.”
Hayes, voted Parkview’s Most Outstanding Player, registered 227 total yards and two touchdowns, including 165 on 25 carries to go along with a TD.
The Eagles forced three of their four turnovers in the second half, with free safety Trent Kavanaugh contributing a pair of key strips and fumble recoveries, including one at the goal line in the first quarter. He led the Eagles with 14 tackles.
“I thought both teams had highly potent offenses, and both defenses were challenged,” STM coach Jim Hightower said. “I’m proud of the way our boys conducted themselves, but we had a few too many turnovers.”
The teams traded the lead over the last 3:46 with STM, which led 14-10 at halftime, going up 21-17 on Bellamy’s 37-yard pass to running back Gabe LeBouef.
Parkview answered on its next series, driving 76 yards in seven plays with Hayes keeping twice for 8 yards and throwing incomplete before his go-ahead score to Ruffin.
STM outgained Parkview 498-353, relying on a ground game that resulted in 217 yards on 22 carries. Evan Trahan led the Cougars with 22 rushes for 131 yards and two TDs.
Bellamy was 20-of-33 for 286 yards with two interceptions and TD, but Parkview limited his top threat — wide receiver Trevor Begue — to four catches for 25 yards, with two of those coming on the final drive.
Parkview scored on its opening series in each half, tying the score at 7 in the first quarter on Hayes’ 29-yard TD run and taking a 17-14 lead at 7:29 of the third quarter on Connon Joffrion’s 2-yard run.
Hayes gained 104 of his team-high total in the first half, and kicker Dillon Hoglen added a 42-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with 5:22 to go before halftime.
“It’s everything we worked for,” O’Brien said. “To go out on top is something special.”