- Game Recap
- George Becnel
- November 24, 2017 - 11:41pm
Anthony “Pooka” Williams lost the regular season rushing title to Covington’s Devin Brumfield.
He may just have to settle for being a 1,000-yard rusher – in the postseason. Williams rushed for more than 300 yards for the third playoff game in a row and the Hahnville running back is less than 100 away from 1,000 in the postseason.
Oh, and by the way, Williams is going to the Class 5A semifinals along with all his Tiger teammates after a 38-27 quarterfinal win Friday night in Boutte.
Williams lost the rushing title as Brumfield finished with 1,779 yards to Williams’ 1,734. It has definitely served as a motivator to the Hahnville runner.
“He got me at the last minute. It was just a battle. I had a lot to prove,” Williams said.
Williams rushed for 307 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. His total could have been much higher after having touchdown runs of 69 and 74 yards called back because of holding penalties.
“You will get holding calls in the game; it’s a part of football. I wasn’t even worried about it. I was just focused on getting back in the end zone. I just told them not to worry about it. They were like, ‘oh, no,’ we’re sorry for this.’ I was like, ‘no, we’re good.’ It’s part of the game,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, Brumfield rushed for 270 yards on 36 carries and four touchdowns. Brumfield earned his yards as the Tigers’ defense kept the Covington running back from breaking long runs.
“We were going to hit him as hard as we could hit him and that’s what we did,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said of defending Brumfield.
The win sends Hahnville, the No. 10 seed, to the Class 5A semifinals next Friday at Acadiana, the No. 3 seed. Acadiana edged No. 22 seed Live Oak 17-14.
“The Hahnville crowd pushed us. Our band pushed us. This is why I wanted this job here so badly. I’ll never forget my wife asking me, ‘you just won a state championship (at East Jefferson in 2013), why do you want to go to Hahnville.’ I said, ‘get in the car.’ We drove here and looked at all this. This is everything I ever asked for,” said Saltaformaggio.
For all the hype surrounding the state’s top two rushers, it was quarterback Jha’Quan Jackson who found the end zone three times. He had scoring runs of 25, 8 and 1 yard.
Jackson, who finished with 86 yards rushing on 15 carries, said he knew he had a chance for a big game with the Lions keying on Williams.
“Pooka is the best athlete in Louisiana. If they don’t key on him, they have got to be crazy. If they don’t key on him, he is going to score. When they key on him, I might get 20 yards or score,” said Jackson.
“For a guy that’s kind of limited in his passing ability, his leadership, mental toughness and ability to run the football have carried us equally well,” Saltaformaggio said of Jackson.
A 28-yard run by Brumfield on the final play of the third quarter allowed the Lions to move to within four points at 17-13. Hahnville had opened the second half with a 20-yard Thomas Rasco field goal.
With Covington gaining momentum, Hahnville’s Brandon Johnson snatched it right back with a 55-yard run of the ensuing kick down to the Lions’ 19-yard line. Four plays later, Jackson scored on a sneak from a yard out to increase the Tigers’ advantage to 24-13.
“All I saw was opportunity and I took it,” Johnson said of his return.
“We had worked on it all week. We saw them on film squibbing that. We knew if we could get it back to our sideline the way they defended it, we’d be good,” said Saltaformaggio.
Covington’s Mason Cialona followed Johnson’s example. He returned the next kickoff 50 yards down to the Hahnville 30. Eight plays later, Brumfield scored on a 2-yard run and added a two-point conversion to make it 24-21 with 6:09 left in the game.
At that point, Williams took over. He got the ball on all five plays of a 66-yard drive. This time, when he scored from 39 yards out, it counted as Hahnville pushed ahead 31-21 with 3:39 left in the game.
For good measure, Williams added a 25-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes left in the game to make it 38-21 on a drive set up by Hunter LeBlanc’s interception of a Joshua Alfaro pass.
Brumfield scored on a 3-yard touchdown on the game’s final play for the 38-27 final.
Williams’ runs in the first half came in spectacular fashion while Brumfield’s were more workmanlike but the Covington runner had more to show for it when two of Williams’ lengthy runs were called back because of holding.
Brumfield made his presence felt from the start, carrying the ball five times in an eight-play opening drive. His 9-yard touchdown run gave Covington a 7-0 lead at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter.
Although Williams’ 69-yard effort was called back, Hahnville eventually scored on the drive when Jackson raced 25 yards to tie the game 7-7 with 26 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Williams broke free on an apparent 74-yard touchdown run but the play was nullified by a holding call. Two plays later, Williams broke loose on a 57-yard run down the 8-yard line. Jackson scored one play later for a 14-7 lead at the 8:08 mark of the second quarter that would hold up through halftime.
“Coach was depending on me. They wanted me to step up. The past two weeks, I didn’t step up. I came to play tonight. I wasn’t trying to lose,” Jackson said.
Jackson and the Tigers didn’t lose and Hahnville is headed to the semifinals.
“It’s what you get in this business for. It’s good for Hahnville to be back in it. It’s been a long time,” Saltaformaggio said.