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New Iberia stings Thibodaux, 35-7

New Iberia's Michael Sam (left) grabs Thibodaux's Jaquan Chenier's facemask during Friday's District 7-5A opener. (Photo by Abby Tabor/Staff)

New Iberia's offense put on a show in the first half, but it was its defense that won the game against Thibodaux.

In a 7-7 tie, the Yellow Jackets opened the door for the Tigers to grab the momentum by fumbling deep in their own territory.

With the Tigers poised to take a lead, the Yellow Jackets held their ground forcing Thibodaux to give up the ball on downs.

That momentum killer for Thibodaux sparked New Iberia's offense to a 35-7 win in Friday's District 7-5A game at Tiger Stadium.

Yellow Jackets quarterback Jason Jones carved up the Tigers defense in the first half, completing 15-of-18 for 190 yards and a touchdown.

Jones didn't throw an interception and his passing set up several short touchdown runs for the Yellow Jackets.

However, New Iberia coach Rick Hutson said that if it wasn't for his defense stopping Thibodaux after the turnover, the game might have turned out differently.

"In their first drive, they went through us real easy. Then on the first play of our next drive we turn the ball over. I really thought that was the ball game. If they go up 14-7, I believe this game would've played out differently," Hutson said. "I thought our defense rose to the occasion and we stopped them right there. Then we go down and score and from then on we had control of the game."

New Iberia didn't punt in the first half as they scored four times and had the one turnover.

The Yellow Jackets (3-1 overall, 1-0 in district) took the opening possession of the game on a 13-play 78-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard run by Daniel Lewis with 6:22 left in the first quarter.

Cody Sedlitsky added the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

Thibodaux (1-2, 0-1) answered immediately with its first possession covering 68 yards in 11 plays. Tigers running back Jaquan Chenier (12 carries, 54 yards and a touchdown) scored on a 1-yard run and after Blaize Rodrigue added the extra point it was 7-7 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.

After that score is when New Iberia fumbled on its 34, but Thibodaux couldn't take advantage coming up inches short on a fourth-down play.

Taking the ball at its 24, New Iberia went 76 yards in seven plays ending with a 2-yard run by Lewis for a 14-7 lead with 7:42 left to play in the second quarter.

A poor decision on the ensuing kickoff gave Thibodaux the ball on its 4-yard line and the Tigers were forced a punt from their endzone.

New Iberia got the ball at the Tigers 37 and scored four plays later when Josh Richie caught a 5-yard pass from Jones. The extra point was no good leaving it a 20-7 score with 4:23 left in the second quarter.

After its first possession of the game, Thibodaux didn't pick up a first down in the first half and had to punt the ball back to New Iberia with 2:16 left in the second quarter.

The Yellow Jackets calmly put together an 8-play 61-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard run by Jones with 26 seconds on the clock.

Dre' Fusilier ran in a two-point conversion from a swinging gate as the Yellow Jackets held a 28-7 halftime lead.

Thibodaux coach Chris Dugas said that he knew New Iberia's offense was good, but he was impressed with its defense's ability to stop his running game.

Thibodaux had 173 total yards with 142 coming on the ground. New Iberia finished with 319 total yards and 19 first downs.

"They are a good football team and their coaches do a good job over there. Hat's off to their defense. I didn't think they would be able to stop our running game," Dugas said. "We had a really productive first drive. We get a score and then we get a turnover with a chance to score again and just didn't get it on the fourth down. That was the big play of the game."

The Yellow Jackets turned to their running game in the second half as Jones attempted just one pass that was incomplete.

After a scoreless third quarter, New Iberia added another score midway through the fourth quarter.

Yellow Jacket defensive back Trent Bourque, who finished with two interceptions, picked off a pass giving the offense the ball at the Tigers 8.

Jones scored on the next play making it 35-7 with 7:54 left in the game.

Thibodaux running back Donta Johnson was held in check rushing for 83 yards on 17 carries. However, in the fourth quarter he took a helmet to the knee and left the game.

Dugas said that it wasn't serious and he expects Johnson back for next week's game against H.L. Bourgeois.