by Jordan Arceneaux (special to AcadianaPostgame.com)

OPELOUSAS- The Opelousas Catholic Vikings started slow, but two late fourth-quarter touchdowns helped the Vikings runaway with a 28-7 win over old rival, the Port Barre Red Devils in the season opener.

“This is a huge win,” said OC head coach Dane Charpentier. “These teams have been playing each other for a long time. Our school community and their school community go back a long way, so anytime we can come out on top in this game, it makes our community very happy.”

However, Charpentier admitted he was not pleased with his team early on. The Vikings failed to score on their first two drives because of a turnover on downs and a fumble in Port Barre territory.

OC quarterback David Labbe connected with Evan Moody on a 30-yard pass down the middle of the field to set up the Vikings on the four yard line. Two plays later, Labbe scored on a 1-yard sneak to five OC a 7-0 lead with 8:49 left in the first half.

Aaron Miller would give the Vikings a two-score lead after a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Port Barre quarterback Austin Lanclos connected with Alex Olivier for an 8-yard score to cut OC’s lead in half at 14-7.

Aaron Whipp’s 16-yard touchdown run gave the Vikings a 21-7 lead that would get worse.

On Port Barre’s next drive, Lanclos was hit hard and fumbled the ball, which OC recovered. Lynwood Hebert scored on a 24-yard reverse to put the game out of reach.

“For the most part I thought we played well and competed hard up until three minutes left in the game,” said Port Barre head coach Mac Mistric. “I think OC did a good job of coming back and putting that third touchdown on us. It kind of took our legs away from us.”

The Vikings racked up 271 yards rushing, led by Miller’s 110 yards on 17 carries. Labbe finished the night with 82 yards rushing on 12 attempts. He added 94 yards on 5-12 passing.

For Port Barre, Lanclos finished 6-13 for 81 yards and a score. Sophomore Terrance Lemelle had 43 yards rushing on 12 carries after filling in for J.J. Sylvester, who suffered a leg injury late in the first half. Sylvester did not play the entire second half.

Mistric said he did not know how serious Sylvester’s injury was, but they would know more about it Saturday when the team meets for a film session.

After the game, Charpentier said he was happy with the win, but his team has a lot to work on.

“I like our effort, fight and enthusiasm, but costly turnovers and mistakes can get you beat in a close game,” he said. “Thankfully we were able to pull this one out because of our defense but we can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Next Friday, the Vikings host Central Catholic of Morgan City and Charpentier said he hopes his team has gotten rid of the off-season rust by then.

“If we don’t knock the rust off we’re going to be in a world of trouble because Central Catholic has a lot of talent and they’re well coached,” he said. “If we supply them with as many mistakes as we made tonight, it’s going to be a long night against those guys. We have to take a lot of steps forward if we’re going to be able to compete.”

Port Barre hopes to rebound from next Friday when they travel to play Sacred Heart of Ville Platte.