By Geoff Stoute // GeauxPreps.com Contributor
LAFAYETTE — No. 1 E.D. White and No. 2 University Lab entered Friday’s Division II state championship game at Cajun Field each giving up less than 10 points a game.
Not only did Friday’s game, a 14-7 U-High victory end without a lot of points, the game was decided on a defensive stand by late by the Cubs.
Justin Collins broke up a fourth-down pass from E.D. White quarterback Jake Sternfels in U-High territory with 27 seconds remaining, allowing the Cubs to run out the clock and celebrate their state title.
“Wow, what a game? What a game?,” U-High Coach Andy Martin said. “I’m a defensive guy and love those types of games. Just so proud of these guys, these 20 seniors that have worked so hard and again, just excited. It was a great win for us.”
The defensive stop was one of several in the second half for the teams. The game was tied at 7 for much of the second half until Derrick Graham’s 1-yard touchdown with eight minutes remaining gave the Cubs (13-0) the lead for good.
The Cardinals (10-1) began the fourth quarter with a huge defensive stop on fourth down when Braxton Comeaux and Aidan Clements stopped Graham a yard short of the end zone.
“This is definitely the tightest game we’ve played all year but that’s what football’s all about, especially state championships, and I think we played real well,” U-High’s Jaiden Ausberry said.
E.D. White Coach Kyle Lasseigne was proud of his squad.
“Did a really good job,” he said. “Hung tough with a really good football program.”
While the game turned into a defensive battle, early on, U-High scored with ease.
On the third play of its first offensive possession, U-High quarterback Blake Abney found Jason Barnes open for a 34-yard touchdown completion with 8:51 remaining to give the Cubs a quick 7-0 lead after William Melton’s point-after attempt.
Lasseigne said he didn’t tell his team a thing after the early score.
“I wasn’t fazed for a second. I knew we were going to come back and play our brand of football, and I know these guys next to me felt the same way,” said Lasseigne, who was flanked by players Jeffrey Diedrich and Riley Albert
E.D. White used a turnover by its defense to set up its first-half score. Comeaux intercepted Abney’s pass in the second quarter, and the Cardinals took over at their own 36.
From there, the Cardinal offense moved the ball 64 yards in 15 plays, capped by Sternfels’ 5-yard run. Ty Powell’s point-after-attempt tied the game at 7 with 9:12 remaining in the first half.
The Cardinals nearly took the lead late in the first half, but a U-High miscue ended up being a blessing in disguise.
With 6 seconds remaining in the half, Powell converted a 31-yard field goal for an E.D. White lead.
However, U-High was offsides on the play, so the ball was moved up to a 26-yard field goal attempt. This time, Powell’s kick was blocked by Marcus Dawson with no time remaining, keeping the game tied at 7 heading into halftime.
“I think that was a big momentum shift,” Martin said. “We went into halftime, and guys were really fired up.”
Abney was named the game’s Outstanding Player for U-High.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I always dreamed of being MVP of the state championship.”
Abney completed 11 of 14 passes for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed five times for 20 yards.
University High finished the game with 252 yards of offense (123 rushing and 129 passing).
Graham was the team’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 55 yards and one touchdown.
Barnes led the team’s receivers with six catches for 85 yards and a score.
E.D. White had 233 yards of offense (202 rushing and 31 passing).
Diedrich, who was named the Cardinals’ Outstanding Player, led E.D. White with 30 carries for 115 yards. Sternfels had nine carries for 43 yards and one touchdown and passed for another 31 yards.
Harrison Ledet was E.D. White’s leading receiver with two catches for 22 yards.
Defensively, Harry Beacham led U-High with 13 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry.
Ausberry had 12 total tackles and one quarterback hurry.
Nathan Johnson led E.D. White with 9 total tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for loss.