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Gators fight back to beat Braves

Gators receiver Kurt Arceneaux (83) runs after making a catch against H.L. Bourgeois' Raheem Robertson on Friday. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)

The first half of Friday's nondistrict game between South Terrebonne and H.L. Bourgeois was a back-and-forth affair on the scoreboard.

By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, there were seven touchdowns scored and six lead changes.

The second half was a different story.

South Terrebonne scored 17 points in the second half, and its defense allowed only six points and 120 yards, which was enough for the Gators to leave Tom B. Smith Stadium with a 39-30 victory over H.L. Bourgeois.

After watching his team get burned for four touchdowns in the first half, South Terrebonne coach Richard Curlin gathered his young team and offered a few word of encouragement at halftime. The Gators (1-1 overall) started eight sophomores against the Braves (2-1).

"I think it all came down to that second half," Curlin said. "We told our kids at halftime to keep fighting. We were making a ton of mistakes. The effort was there. They just had to keep working and keep fighting."

One of those sophomores who stepped up was running back Christian Wallis, who got the start after starter Justin Johnson was held out after suffering a head injury in last week's game against Terrebonne.

Wallis led the Gators with 145 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

"Coming into the game, knowing I had to fill in for Justin, I knew I was going to have to do it right, so I just tried my best," Wallis said. "My coaches told me to keep my head up and try not to do too much, and that's what I did."

Despite committing 19 penalties for 152 yards, South Terrebonne finished with 451 total yards, getting 375 on the ground and 76 through the air. Fullback Channing Champagne had 132 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback James LeBlanc (3-for-7 passing) added 96 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Curlin said having a dominant rushing attack helped take time of the clock and control the flow of the game in the second half.

"I think having some sustained drives is what helped us in that second half," he said. "(H.L. Bourgeois) could strike quick. We knew we had to hold on to the football and move it down there and score. The kids did good. We are just glad to come out with a win. We needed one."

H.L. Bourgeois' offense, which had 255 yards in the first half, finished with 375 total yards (353 passing, 22 rushing). The Braves (two turnovers) also went 0-for-5 on two-point conversion attempts, which Braves coach Ben Powell said was due to a lack of a kicking game.

"We made way too many errors against a solid football team," Powell said. "Hat's off to them. They played hard and had a good game plan. At the end of the day, playmakers got to make plays. We've got to make catches and tackles, and we've got to be consistent. We're going to go back to work and get ready for Central Lafourche."

The Braves opened the scoring frenzy in the first half on their opening possession when quarterback Todd Adkins tossed a 90-yard touchdown pass to Chris Harris. The Braves' two-point attempt failed, but it held a 6-0 lead with 9:44 left in first quarter.

South Terrebonne responded on its next offensive drive, getting set up at midfield after a 47-yard kickoff return from Jarion Sauceberry. The Gators used a 12-yard touchdown run from Wallis to take a 7-6 lead with 4:47 left in the first.

The Braves stormed back with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with a 12-yard pass from quarterback Jake Broggi to Harris, making it 12-7 H.L. Bourgeois with five seconds left in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, South Terrebonne bounced back with a 5-yard touchdown run from Wallis, and the Gators added a two-point conversion run from Champagne to make it 15-12 Gators with 9:52 left.

H.L. Bourgeois' defense got a big play when defensive back Elron Brown intercepted a pass from LeBlanc at the Braves' 23-yard line. After Harris made a one-handed, 23-yard reception along the sideline, Braves running back Markice Bogan took it the rest of the way on a 40-yard touchdown run.

H.L. Bourgeois missed the two-point conversion attempt, but it held a 18-15 advantage with 3:20 left in the second quarter.

South Terrebonne didn't back down on its next possession, getting a 30-yard run from Champagne to set up first-and-goal at the Braves' 11. Champagne pounded it in on an 11-yard run to give the Gators a 22-18 advantage with a 1:18 left in the first half.

Right before halftime, the Braves offense struck again, getting a 38-yard touchdown pass from Broggi to Tylone Johnson on fourth down. The Braves missed their fourth two-point conversion attempt of the first half, but it went up 24-22 at halftime.

South Terrebonne scored the only touchdown of the third quarter with a 7-yard run from Champagne, who also added the two-point conversion run to make it 30-24 with 4:09 left.

After South Terrebonne got a 23-yard field goal from Matt Benoit with 9:45 left in the fourth quarter, H.L. Bourgeois scored its only touchdown of the second half on a 7-yard pass from Broggi to Kenny Rhoades to cut it to 9:05 after the missed two-point attempt.

But the Gators went on a 16-play, 80-yard time consuming drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run from LeBlanc with 50 seconds left, sealing the win.

“We knew we had to be the last team that had the ball, so we had to run down the clock as much as we can," Champagne said. "This game was a big one because coming back from last week, we didn’t play too good. We had to step it up and work hard at practice. I think it helped.”

Broggi completed 15-for-27 passes for 194 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Adkins was 3-for-8 passing with 118 yards. Harris caught five passes for 191 yards and two scores for the Braves.