LAFAYETTE – There’s nothing that set’s the mood for a season opener quite like a pregame downpour that leaves a stadium with standing water on the concourse and a field that acts like an oversaturated sponge.
No matter the conditions, players and fans were ready for a pair of defending state champions, Carencro and Acadiana, to resume their longstanding rivalry.
While the game may not have lit up the scoreboard, it was a tense battle that wasn’t settled until the final seconds, as the Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams (1-0) knocked of the Carencro Bears (0-1) 9-7.
After a defensive struggle that saw nearly as many turnovers in the second half as first downs, the clash of the titans was decided by a blocked punt by Acadiana’s Dominic Andrus on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Carencro did manage a goal line stand with under a minute to go, giving the Bears the ball inside their own one yard line. Unfortunately, an offensive penalty cost them a final chance at a game-winning score.
Rams quarterback Ayden Trahan opened the scoring with a nice touchdown run in the second quarter than sent Acadiana into the locker room with a 7-0 halftime lead.
That’s where the score remained until the Bears were able to put together their best drive of the game. On second-and-ten from the Acadiana 20 yard line, Chantz Ceaser picked up his own fumble before weaving through the Wreckin’ Rams defense on his way to a touchdown with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.
The ensuing extra point tied the game at seven, and after a couple of punts by both teams, that’s how they entered the final 12 minutes.
That’s when Andrus made what was ultimately the play of the game.
Carencro had struggles with the QB-center exchange all night long, and it hurt them throughout, either costing the team field position or their possession.
Even in defeat, Bears head coach Tony Courville saw a lot of encouraging signs from his team.
“I’m not about moral victories,” he said, “but I’m proud of those kids. We’d have liked to execute better, but we showed that we can compete for 48 minutes.
We have a mantra each week, and this week we were all about being special. This can be a special team.”
Courville was also impressed by the poise of Ceaser, his first-year starter under center.
“He’s the leader of our offense,” Courville said. “He kept his composure, and he’s mature beyond his years. He takes a lot of pride in what he does.”
Acadiana’s Matt McCullough knew his team was in for a real challenge, and had his team prepared.
“It was a war,” he said. “I thought both defenses played extremely hard. It was a crazy game, but I’m just glad we were able to pull it out…we just gotta keep getting better.”
There’s no doubt that both of these teams will continue to improve and should both be in contention to defend their respective titles.
Acadiana hits the road next week to face Catholic-Baton Rouge (1-0), while the Bears will host Southside (0-1).