by Dan McDonald (Special to Acadiana Postgame)

If Hahnville’s Tigers were looking to end a streak of early-game struggles Friday night, they could have picked someone better than a fired-up St. Thomas More squad.

Both teams had lost in disappointing fashion the previous week, but Hahnvile coach Nick Saltaformaggio said there was a big difference.

“They were angry that they’d got beat last week,” the Tiger coach said only minutes after the Cougars had pounded a solid Hahnville team into submission in a 52-12 decision. “Our guys look like they’re starting to lose that moxie we had from getting to the quarterfinals last year.”

Of course, it might not have mattered who the fifth-ranked Cougars were playing Friday, since the hosts put on a football clinic in the first 24 minutes at Cougar Stadium, seven days after a disappointing first loss of the year at Catholic-Baton Rouge.

STM scored twice before some fans found their seats, with a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game, and never looked back in what was a runaway well before halftime.

“That’s about as good as we can play in that first half,” said STM coach Jim Hightower. “Our defense made a bunch of stops, and our offense was really explosive.”

Hightower notched the 380th win of his 41-year coaching career, only two days after being announced as one of the newest inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. His formal induction has to wait until next June at the Hall of Fame facility in Natchitoches, but his team celebrated early.

And Trevor Begue? Well, those were hall-of-fame-type numbers he put up the first six times he handled the ball.

Begue and quarterback Will Bellamy hooked up for those two early scores, and they were just getting started. Begue finished with three touchdown catches and also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a score only seconds after Hahnville (2-3) had notched its only first-half score on Mike Neal’s 24-yard pass to Kevin Comardelle late in the first quarter.

“Trevor found another gear tonight,” said Hightower. “And Will threw some razor shots to him. We were just lights out in just about every aspect.”

The Cougars scored on six of their seven first-half possessions in handing Hahnville its third straight loss – one that was very similar to the previous Friday when the Tigers fell 48-23 District 7-5A loss to rival Destrehan. In that game, Destrehan scored five first-half touchdowns, and the Cougars matched that on Friday night.

“We haven’t been playing well,” Saltaformaggio said. “This is becoming a bad pattern getting off this slow. It’s happened to us five games in a row. We’re working hard ... we just have to get this figured out.”

The Tigers couldn’t figure out Begue, who finished with eight catches for 167 yards. His first two covered almost 100 yards – a 45-yard pass from Bellamy on the game’s third play from scrimmage, and a 54-yard pass on the second play after a three-and-out by the Hahnville offense.

That three-and-out also became a pattern, as except for penalties, the Tigers didn’t pick up a first down until early in the second quarter on Anthony Williams’ 46-yard run. By that time it was 28-6, on the way to a 38-6 STM halftime lead.

“It was just their strength,” Saltaformaggio said. “They just physically whipped us on the line of scrimmage.”

STM followed the two early touchdown passes with a 45-yard drive on its third possession, that leading to a three-yard scoring run by Evan Trahan. The Tigers did threaten, capping a penalty-infused drive when Neal had the first of his two scoring tosses.

On the following kickoff, though, Begue took in the kick at the STM 7 and was barely touched on a return up the middle, giving him three scores with 1:35 still left in the first period.

The Cougars got a 32-yard field goal from Bailey Raborn with 2:14 left in the half, and after a fumble recovery, STM drove 40 yards on only three plays before Bellamy found Begue on a crossing pattern for a nine-yard score 1:11 before halftime.

The Cougars had fallen from the unbeaten ranks the previous Friday when Catholic-Baton Rouge scored 21 unanswered second-half points in taking a 35-17 win in Baton Rouge.

“Our kids were hurt by that one,” Hightower said, “not with the loss, but with the way we played last week. That wasn’t Cougar football, and it showed Saturday morning when they came in. They bowed their necks and went to work, and they really responded.”

Bellamy finished 14-of-18 passing for 223 yards and the three scores, while Trahan finished with 133 rush yards and added a second touchdown on a one-yard run with 3:41 left in the third quarter. That was part of a 510-yard offensive effort for the Cougars.

Hahnville got its final touchdown with 8:54 left when Neal connected with Devontae Cravin for a 24-yard strike. Neal finished 9-of-21 for 102 yards.

 

St. Thomas More 52, Hahnville 12

Hahnville               6    0   6   0 -- 12

St. Thomas More 28  10  7   7 -- 52

First Quarter

STM -- Trevor Begue 45 pass from Will Bellamy (Bailey Raborn kick)
STM -- Begue 54 pass from Bellamy (Raborn kick)
STM -- Evan Trahan 3 run (Raborn kick)
HHS -- Kevin Comardelle 24 pass from Mike Neal (kick failed)
STM -- Begue 93 kickoff return (Raborn kick)

Second Quarter

STM -- Raborn 32 field goal
STM -- Begue 9 pass from Bellamy (Raborn kick)

Third Quarter

HHS -- Devante Cravin 24 pass from Neal (pass failed)
STM -- Trahan 1 run (Raborn kick)

Fourth Quarter

STM -- Gabe LeBouef 2 run (Raborn kick)

 

HHS        STM

First downs             13             24

Rushing Yards        97            274

Passing Yards       102           236

Total Yards             199           510

Comp-Att-Int         9-21-0     15-21-1

Punts-Avg.            6-29.0         0-0

Fumbles-Lost           2-1           2-1

Penalties-Yards      12-77      17-165

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING -- HHS: Drew Dunn 9-40, Anthony Williams 5-40, Norquell Flowes 5-24, Devonte Clark 4-9, Mike Neal 1-1, team 1-minus 17. STM: Evan Trahan 20-133 2 TD, Evan Dominque 8-56, Matthew Gardner 5-51, Gabe LeBouef 6-46 1 TD, Trevor Begue 1-minus 4, Will Bellamy 1-minus 4, team 2-minus 4.

PASSING -- HHS: Neal 9-21-0, 102 yds., 2 TD. STM: Bellamy 14-18-0, 223 yds., 3 TD, Gardner 1-3-1, 13 yds.

RECEIVING -- HHS: Williams 2-16, Devonte Craven 2-29 1 TD, Flowers 2-25, Kevin Comardelle 1-24, Jonathan Franklin 1-5, Dylan Crockett 1-3. STM: Begue 8-167 3 TD, Griffin Hebert 1-12, Matthew Gautreaux 1-9, Jamison Thibodeaux 2-27, Noah Fontenot 1-6, Trahan 1-2, Mathew LaGrange 1-13

Records: HHS 2-3, 0-1; STM 4-1, 0-0. Next: Hahnville hosts Terrebonne Friday, St. Thomas More hosts Beau Chene Friday.