MORGAN CITY — Morgan City High School football coach Brandon Nowlin said last week that his squad needed a win against South Terrebonne Friday both to re-emerge in the District 8-4A championship race and to position itself for a Class 4A playoff berth.
Unfortunately, the Tigers (4-3 overall, 0-2 in district) came up short and suffered its first loss at home this season, a 42-27 setback to South Terrebonne (2-5, 1-2).
The loss, the Tigers’ third straight, made Morgan City’s chances at a playoff berth that much more difficult and made winning the last two games of the season that much more crucial to securing a postseason spot.
According to unofficial power rankings on Kenramsey.com, Morgan City currently sits at the No. 33 spot. (The top 32 seeds are taken.)
The problem for the Tigers is the competition doesn’t get any easier as they must face the top two teams in the district the next two weeks, Vandebilt Catholic on the road and at home against Assumption.
In Friday’s game, the Tigers did not have much of an answer for South Terrebonne’s running game. The Gators churned out 395 yards on 60 carries with two touchdowns.
The Gators were led by sophomore Christian Wallis’ 209 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while senior Channing Champagne added 23 carries for 108 yards and two scores.
South Terrebonne received the opening kickoff and began the game with a lengthy drive to get its first score, a 7-yard run by Champagne with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
South Terrebonne’s two-point conversion was no good, but the Gators led 6-0 with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Morgan City responded early in the second quarter with a quick, three-play drive down the field.
Freshman Jacolbi Francis carried all three plays, including a 49-yard run down to the Morgan City 8.
One play later, Francois scored on an 8-yard run. Junior Sergize Flores’ extra point gave the Tigers its only lead of the night, 7-6, with 11:11 remaining in the second quarter.
Francois led the Tigers’ rushers with five carries for 59 yards and a score.
However, South Terrebonne quickly responded to Morgan City’s score.
After a touchback put the ball at the South Terrebonne 20, Wallis took a handoff and reeled off an 80-yard run for a touchdown.
Champagne’s two-point run was good, and South Terrebonne had regained the lead at 14-7 just 15 seconds after Morgan City’s score.
South Terrebonne added another first-half score on senior quarterback James LeBlanc’s 5-yard run that was set up after junior David McCormick recovered a Tigers’ fumble at the Morgan City 36.
South Terrebonne kicked off to Morgan City to begin the second half. However, an intentional sky kick was recovered by South Terrebonne at the Tigers’ 30.
From there, it took less than two minutes for South Terrebonne to punch it into the end zone as Champagne crossed the goal line on a 1-yard run to extend the South Terrebonne lead to 27-7 with 10:26 remaining in the third.
Morgan City’s offense regrouped on the next drive as the Tigers used a no-huddle offense and mostly passes to the outside to move the ball down the field.
MCHS senior quarterback Hoang Nguyen completed all seven of his pass attempts on the drive for 77 yards.
The drive was capped by Nguyen’s 18-yard completion to sophomore Jalen Jones to cut the South Terrebonne lead to 27-14 with 6:48 remaining in the third.
After a 25-yard field goal by South Terrebonne junior Matt Benoit, Morgan City continued to cut into the South Terrebonne lead when Nguyen connected with Jones for a 36-yard pass. Nguyen’s two-point pass was no good, but Morgan City had cut the lead to 30-20 with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Jones led Morgan City with eight catches for 79 yards and two scores, while teammate, junior Malcolm Wakins was right behind with five catches for 73 yards.
Nguyen completed 16 of 26 passes for 168 yards and two scores for Morgan City and rushed seven times for 47 yards.
While Morgan City had cut the South Terrebonne lead to 10, the Gators continued to pound the ball as it responded with Wallis’ 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Later in the period, South Terrebonne extended its lead with a 35-yard touchdown pass from LeBlanc to junior Chandler Arceneaux.
LeBlanc finished the evening with five of 10 pass completions for 82 yards and one touchdown, while Arceneaux was the Gators’ top receiver as he caught two receptions for 47 yards and a score.
Morgan City added a late score with 1:45 remaining on senior Eric Walker’s 2-yard run.