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H.L. Bourgeois holds off Ellender to get to 2-0

H.L. Bourgeois quarterback Todd Adkins (17) moves into space as Ellender's Brandon Lagarde (99) and Trung Phan (22) give chase on Friday in Bourg. The Braves held off the Patriots 20-18 to improve to 2-0 overall, while Ellender dropped to 1-1. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)

BOURG — Just when it looked like quarterback Dustin Creppel and the Ellender offense would get one more chance to try and top H.L. Bourgeois on Friday night, a yellow flag came out.

With the Braves holding a two-point lead with under a minute to go at their own 23 and about to accept a delay-of-game penalty and punt to the Patriots, Ellender was flagged for illegal substitution.

The five-yard penalty gave the Braves a first down and H.L. Bourgeois quarterback Todd Adkins was able to take a knee and preserve a 20-18 nondistrict victory at South Terrebonne Memorial Stadium that moved the Braves to 2-0 on the season.

Creppel was 15-of-24 with a few drops for 308 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions but was denied a chance to lead the Patriots, who snapped a 32-game losing streak after beating Terrebonne on Sunday, to a possible last-second, come-back victory.

"That penalty at the end of the game kind of saved us from having to play another series on defense so we will take it," Braves coach Ben Powell said. "We were going to take the (delay-of-game) penalty and punt."

The penalty by the Patriots was one of 12 on the night. They also lost three fumbles.

"H.L. Bourgeois is a good team, and they wanted this one more than we did," Ellender coach Terry Washington said. "We had too many mental breakdowns, too many mental mistakes, too many penalties and too many dropped passes, and it cost us. At the end of the game at a critical time, we had guys running on and off the field, and it cost us. We have to fix that."

Ellender (1-1) cut an H.L. Bourgeois lead to 20-18 with 7:43 to play after Creppel hit Dan Mitchell for a 54-yard touchdown strike after the quarterback rolled left and came back to find Mitchell deep down field.

The Patriots, who outgained the Braves 308-172, attempted the two-point conversion that could have tied it, but after Creppel rolled left and made an attempt to reach for the pylon, the official, who was run into during the play and knocked off his line, ruled Creppel stepped out of bounds before extending the ball over, and the Braves held onto the lead.

"From my vantage point, it looked like the official on the side didn't get a good look at it," Washington said. "I think he should have asked for help, but he made a call. That was tough."

Ellender (12 first downs, three lost fumbles) then recovered an H.L. Bourgeois fumble and drove down to the Braves 3-yard line with 5 minutes to play. Patriots running back Ralph Singleton (17 carries, 44 yards, 62 yards receiving) was stopped twice for no gain then Jordan Humphries recovered a fumble for the Braves, and they were able to run out the clock with two first downs to preserve the 2-point win.

"Our defense bent but didn't break," Powell said. "Ellender is a really good team. They have plenty of athletes. Causing and recovering that fumble was huge. We were tired and gassed but the kids kept fighting until the end. I am proud of them. Last year, that may not have happened."

Braves junior receiver Chris Harris said it feels good to be 2-0.

"It's awesome," Harris said. "We work so hard for this. We just kept our momentum going, and it paid off. It was an awesome win."

Ellender, which got 139 yards receiving from Jarrod Turner, led 6-0 with 5:30 to go in the first quarter when Creppel found Singleton for a quick touchdown pass over the middle, and the two-point conversion failed.

After the Braves (eight first downs, one lost fumble) punted, Elron Brown picked Creppel off and took it back 45 yards for a touchdown, and after another failed two-point conversion, it was tied at 6 with 3:12 to go in the first quarter.

Ellender went ahead 12-6 just before halftime after Creppel hit Kevin Lucion (83 receiving yards) for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The conversion failed and the Patriots led 12-6 at halftime.

The Braves tied it with 8:05 to go in the third quarter when Adkins hit Tylone Johnson for a 25-yard score, and after the conversion failed, the score stood at 12-12.

After a couple of key dropped passes from Ellender and an interception by Patriots defensive back Jaharri Gahno, the Braves later took an 18-12 lead when Jordin Starks ran into the end zone from 9 yards out.

Adkins (3-of-9, 48 yards, TD, INT) then ran up the middle for the key two-point conversion for a 20-12 lead with 10:25 to go and the Braves, who also got an interception early from Raheem Robinson, then held off Ellender for the victory.

"We made big plays at critical times when we needed to," Powell said. "Our defense came up big when we needed them to. It was a great win."

Ellender was left with the sting of defeat just five days after the thrilling win that snapped its long losing streak.

"We as coaches need to get back at it (this morning) and fix the problems we had (Friday night)," Washington said. "We need to have a good week of practice and get ready for (Friday's game against) West St. Mary. This one is over."