A 3-yard run by Jace Myers less than a minute into the second half gave Hahnville a 28-0 lead and for all practical purposes put the game out of reach.
Yet, it was Hahnville’s defense, special teams and a renewed running game that allowed HHS to build an early lead on its way to a 41-7 victory over visiting Thibodaux in District 7-5A action Friday night in Boutte.
Hahnville (3-4 overall, 1-2 in district) rushed for 309 yards with Brandon Comardelle leading the way with 203 yards on 12 carries.
“We had to get back to an identity of who we are,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “I think when I was suspended, we kind of lost the identity of who we were. Everybody is back and everybody understands what we are expected to do on Friday night now.
“It’s what I believe in: we are going to play good defense, we are going to be good in the kicking game and we are going to have a sound run team. We are back to playing that kind of football again.”
A quick three-and-out gave Hahnville excellent field position, allowing the offense to begin its first possession of the night at the Thibodaux 49.
It took only four plays for Hahnville to score when Comardelle raced 35 yards for a 7-0 HHS lead at the 8:35 mark of the first quarter.
Hahnville’s defense and special teams set up the Tigers’ next two scores as an opportunistic HHS offense needed only one play after the Thibodaux miscues to increase its advantage.
A Maxwell Farrell interception of a Tyren Young pass and a Thibodaux penalty on the play gave Hahnville the ball at the Thibodaux 10-yard line.
“We are starting to get better play out of our inverts (safety/linebacker hybrid). If you are going to be a 3-3 Stack defense, you better have good invert play. We are finally starting to get it now,” Saltaformaggio said.
Comardelle scored one play later to give Hahnville a 14-0 lead with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Hahnville’s final score of the first half came at the 10:35 mark of the second quarter on a 9-yard run by Myers that came one play after a blocked punt by HHS’ Micah Harris.
“Special teams are finally coming up big for us,” said Saltaformaggio. “At the beginning of the year it was an Achilles heel but are getting real good production out of our special teams now.
“We had a short field all night. If you have a short field, you probably are going to score a lot of points.”
Myers’ touchdown run to open the second half came two plays after Comardelle broke free on a 57-yard gallop to open the third quarter.
“We told them coming out at halftime, ‘Look, the next three minutes could make or break your season. If we are who we think we are, we are going to go right down and score and we will put this game out of reach,’ and that’s exactly what happened,” Saltaformaggio said.
Thibodaux (3-4 overall, 1-3 in district) only score came after Hahnville failed to convert on fourth-and-1 at the HHS 29 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Hahnville originally lined up to punt the ball away. After calling a timeout, HHS elected to try and pick up the first down. Myers was dropped for a 2-yard loss, turning the ball over on downs.
Thibodaux faced a fourth down of its own from the Hahnville 24 and needed 7 yards for a first down. Young scrambled to his left before tossing into the end zone. Kyren Lacy hauled in the pass for a touchdown that made it 28-7.
Hahnville quarterback Drew Naquin scored on a 1-yard run at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter before HHS rounded out the scoring with 55 seconds left in the third period on a 16-yard run by Dominque Curley to account for the 41-7 final.
Hahnville won two games in a row for the first time this season in picking up its first district victory of the year.
“I think the Terrebonne game (a 41-0 loss), the score wasn’t indicative of the game. It got away from us late and it really embarrassed our kids and coaches but we made a concerted effort across the board to reestablish ourselves. The only way to go that is to win these games and get in the playoffs with as high a seed as we can get and try to make some noise in the playoffs,” Saltaformaggio said.