CROWLEY — No. 31 ranked Patterson gave Notre Dame all it could handle but came up just short, 38-26, in its bid for an upset of Class 3A’s second seed during first-round playoff action Friday.
The game wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter when Notre Dame (9-1) sealed it on a 19-yard run by running back Luke Broussard with 51 seconds remaining.
While Patterson lead just once at 6-3 following quarterback Denzel Johnson’s 29-yard completion to freshman receiver Mykel Jones with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter, the Lumberjacks continued to fight back against the Pios.
Although Notre Dame made the ’Jacks’ running game nearly nonexistent and sacked Johnson seven times, Johnson and the ’Jacks were able to keep pace through the air. The senior standout completed 25 of 52 passes for 447 yards and five scores. He also threw one interception.
“We knew we wanted to stop the run,” Notre Dame coach Louie Cook said. “We did that. Then it was just a matter of could we contain them enough in the throwing game.”
Patterson (7-4) actually outgained Notre Dame, 409 to 403, in total offense.
Patterson received huge contributions from Jones (six receptions, 145 yards, two touchdowns), sophomore Daylon Charlot, four receptions for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and senior Deondre Skinner, six receptions for 95 yards.
“They’re a good football (team),” Cook said of Patterson. “We knew that. We’ve played them before several times. It’s a tough matchup for us. Did they ever miss a pass? You can’t cover them any better than we did. They caught everything. It’s unbelievable. They just got great skills athletes. Their scheme is really good. They’re so fast. Defensively, they’re all over. I’ve got to take my hat off to my kids. That was a hell of a game.”
While the ’Jacks made their mark through the air, Notre Dame had its success on the ground as it churned out 403 yards rushing on 42 carries led by Broussard’s 207 yard, three-touchdown rushing performance.
Despite the No. 2 versus No. 31 matchup, Patterson coach Tommy Minton said his squad didn’t let the lofty Notre Dame ranking faze them.
“These kids aren’t intimidated,” Minton said. “Look, we’ve been to the dome twice in nine years. We’ve been to the semifinals two other times. They’re not intimated by nobody. They line up play. They compete, and that’s what the game’s all about. We didn’t come down here expecting to lose. We knew we were going to give ourselves a chance. We gave ourselves a chance. We just couldn’t convert on some things we needed to in order to win.”
Minton also didn’t think his team truly was a No. 31 seed.
“I thought we had gotten better all year,” Minton said. “We were better than a 31 seed, but hell, that’s where we fell because in the first part of the season we lost some ball games. We knew we had some good matchups in the pass game. We knew we had some bad matchups up front. Their offensive line was so big and physical. Our kids fought hard and competed and that’s all we can ask of them.”
While the Lumberjacks had success, things didn’t start off well as Patterson muffed the opening kickoff, and Notre Dame took over at the Patterson 13 yard line.
However, a holding penalty on Notre Dame hurt the Pios’ chances at a score and they had to settle for Dustin Reiners’ 35-yard field goal and a 3-0 Pios lead with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter.
After stalling at the Notre Dame 33 on its first drive of the game, the Lumberjacks’ defense helped set up the squad’s first score as it recovered a Notre Dame fumble at the Patterson 45.
From there, it took the ’Jacks just four plays to punch the ball into the end zone.
After consecutive incompletions by Johnson, the second of which was nearly intercepted, the senior quarterback regrouped with consecutive completions, a 23-yard pass to Larry Turner and then a 29-yard pass to Jones for Patterson’s only lead of the game.
Bryce Tabor’s extra point bounced off the upright and was no good, but the ’Jacks led 6-3 with 5:40 left.
Jones’ touchdown was the first of his two touchdown receptions during the contest as he hauled in six receptions for 145 yards.
The lead, however, was short lived, as Notre Dame scored just four plays into its next offensive drive on Austin Thibodeaux’s 47-yard run with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Neither team scored again until late in the second quarter.
First, Broussard scored on a 34-yard run for a 17-6 Notre Dame advantage with 4:55 remaining, while nearly two minutes later, Jones hit Charlot for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Johnson’s two-point conversion run was no good on the play and the ’Jacks trailed 17-12.
Charlot’s touchdown was one of three touchdown receptions the sophomore hauled in during the contest. Charlot finished the game with four receptions for 118 yards.
However, Notre Dame came right back with John Michael Besse’s 74-yard run on the Pios first offensive play following Patterson’s score for a 24-12 advantage with 2:50 remaining in the half.
While Notre Dame was set to receive the ball to open the second half, a Patterson squib kick — one of many the ’Jacks attempted during the contest — worked to perfection as it deflected off a Notre Dame defender before the ’Jacks recovered at the Pios 34.
While Patterson moved the ball down to the Notre Dame 10, Notre Dame’s Gavin Bourgeois jarred loose what appeared would be another touchdown reception by Jones.
Despite the missed opportunity, the ’Jacks still managed to cut into the Notre Dame lead on Patterson’s next possession when Johnson hit Charlot for a 40-yard reception.
The ’Jacks’ extra point failed, but Patterson trailed 24-18 with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.
While Notre Dame gave itself a little cushion early in the fourth quarter when Broussard scored on a 23-yard run, Patterson made things interesting late when Johnson hit Jones for a 26-yard score with 3:41 remaining.
Johnson’s two-point pass to Charlot further cut into the Pios lead at 31-26.
However, Notre Dame ended any Patterson attempt at an upset on the Pios’ final drive of the night when Broussard scored from 19 yards out with 51 seconds remaining.
Other top Notre Dame rushers included Thibodeaux, who had 13 carries for 87 yards and a score, and Besse, who contributed three carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Minton commended his senior class for their leadership this year.
“I thought our seniors did a great job this year,” he said.
While Notre Dame had 21 seniors, Patterson started nine sophomore and two freshmen combined on offense and defense meaning the future looks bright.
“Our expectations are always high, and (they) will be very high next year, definitely,” Minton said.