THIBODAUX — The Hahnville Tigers celebrated the return of their embattled coach Nick Saltaformaggio, who just completed a four-game suspension by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
But the Terrebonne Tigers had more to celebrate on this night — even if it was on a borrowed field.
For the first time since 1998, and for only the second time in 35 years, Terrebonne defeated its River Parishes nemesis, handing Hahnville a 41-0 thumping in a crucial District 7-5A showdown. The win keeps Terrebonne undefeated at the midway point of the season.
Despite the return of its head coach, Hahnville dropped to 1-4, 0-2.
The game was moved to the turf field at Thibodaux High School because Terrebonne’s home field at Tom B. Smith Memorial Stadium has been left a quagmire due to heavy rains and heavy use.
That didn’t really matter to Terrebonne, though, which joyously celebrated its victory with dancing, hugs and a couple of attempts to dunk water buckets on various coaches.
“This is the greatest thing ever,” said Keshawn James, who rushed for 87 yards and threw one touchdown pass to Jakhi Douglas. “It’s amazing. It’s joyous. It’s exciting.”
James was a part of a 1-2-3 combination that included Douglas and Chaz Ward. Ward rushed for 141 yards and scored three touchdowns. Douglas scored two touchdowns, including a 62-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
Terrebonne finished with 324 yards of offense, including 249 rushing. But the Tigers’ defense held Hahnville to a total of 132 yards and forced four turnovers. Blake Lopez had one of two interceptions for Terrebonne and recovered a Hahnville fumble. Trinity Steward had the other interception.
“The plan was to stay focused and put in the work consistently and not get side-tracked,” Ward said. “We just had to get a feel for them in the first half.”
It did take Terrebonne some time to get going. Neither team moved the ball particularly well in the first half. But after Hahnville attempted a faked punt with 3:07 remaining, Terrebonne found its footing. Taking over at the Hahnville 38, Terrebonne needed just eight plays to score with Douglas connecting with James on a 10-yard pass with just five seconds remaining in the half.
Hahnville tried some more trickery to open the second half, attempting an onside kick. Terrebonne recovered, however, and needed four plays to drive from the Hahnville 49. Ward scored his first touchdown with 10:54 on the clock, but the PAT failed leaving the Tigers with a 13-0 lead.
Steward’s interception stopped Hahnville’s next drive at the Hahnville 44 with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter. Seven plays later, Ward scored again, this time from the 3 to put Terrebonne ahead 19-0.
Hahnville’s misfortunes continued when the Tigers fumbled on their second play of the next drive and Lopez recovered at the Hahnville 29. Ward scored his third touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter and Dylan Cruze’s PAT made it 27-0 with 11:51 remaining in the game.
Terrebonne would add two more touchdowns against a weary Hahnville defense.
“They’re really good,” Saltaformaggio said. “We’re not really good. But we’ll keep working. We’ve got five we’ve got to win. It’s more right now about trying to keep us focused. It’s been a long time since Hahnville has been like this.”
On the other side of the field, Terrebonne coach Gary Hill said it’s been a long time since Terrebonne has been like it is, too.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of my gentlemen. They played their tails off tonight and they earned it. The defense played tremendous. They just got stop after stop. It’s huge victory for our program moving forward. This is the year we think we can make a little noise.”