NEW ORLEANS — Archbishop Rummel slowed things early and dominated late, scoring three fourth quarter touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Barbe in the Class 5A state championship game.
The win caps a perfect season and gives Rummel (14-0) its first state championship. Barbe ends the season at 13-2.
Raider running back Keith Fulton scored three short rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter after Barbe took a 14-13 lead after three quarters.
Fulton scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the quarter to give the Raiders the lead for good, and added a pair of 4-yard scores to blow the game open.
Rummel quarterback Damian Williams completed 11 of 13 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Fulton finished the game with 132 yards on 22 carries.
Rummel controlled the pace in the first half, slowing the game to a crawl when they had the ball by letting the play clock tick down to a few seconds before snapping the ball.
The Raiders had little trouble moving the ball, driving 99 yards in 13 plays for the game’s first score, a 12-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Steven Dunbar to take a 7-0 lead with a minute remaining in the first quarter. The Raiders used up more than 8 minutes of game time on the drive.
Barbe responded with a touchdown drive of its own, going 74 yards.
Bucs quarterback Kennon Fontenot converted four third-down conversion on the drive, twice running to move the chains, then eluding several defenders before throwing a 28-yard strike to Desean Smith to set the Bucs up at the Rummell 28.
Three plays later, Fontenot connected with Smith for a 25-yard touchdown catch in which Smith got behind the defense and made a nifty catch near the back of the end zone.
Rummel came right back with another clock-eating drive, going 82 yards on 10 plays before Williams threw another 12-yard touchdown pass, this time to Cethan Carter, with 1:33 remaining. The extra point hit the upright and fell away harmlessly to give the Raiders a 13-7 lead.
The Bucs appeared to have tied the game on the last play of the half when Smith hauled in a deflected pass in the end zone as time expired, but both teams were flagged on the play, Barbe for holding, Rummel for a personal foul.
The down was replayed and Fontenot scrambled for a harmless 31-yard gain.
“That took that momentum, we could have went into the half up or tied,” said Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera. “We come out in the second half and make a stop. If we could have scored after that, it would have been huge, but they called the offsetting penalties and it did not work out.”
The Bucs forced a stop on the first possession of the second half and drove 55 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-13 lead.
Fontenot and Smith connected again on the touchdown, a 23-yard strike that Smith brought down near the right corner of the end zone.
On the ensuing possession, Williams fumbled when sacked by Bucs defensive back Callen Smith. Thomas Richard recovered at the Raider 29-yard line, but the offense lost 6yards on its drive, which ended on a missed 45-yard field attempt.
“If we could punched that in it would have been a different ballgame,” said Cutrera. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Rummel controlled the game thereafter, marching 80 yards for a touchdown, the first of Fulton’s trio of touchdowns.
The Raider defense intercepted Fontenot twice in the fourth quarter, while the offense scored on every possession but the final one, when they took a knee twice to run the clock out.
Cutrera said his team’s offense could never find a rhythm.
“They did a good job of clock management in the first half, limiting our amount of posessions,” he said. “They played great defense, are fundamentally sound. Most of the time they were playing defense on offense. In the first half they limited us to two possessions really. They did a great job all around. They were never out of place.”
Roth said the Raiders stressed not letting the Bucs receivers get behind them.
“We had pressure on him, we did a good job covering, it was a pretty good job on the defensive end,” he said. “We had two possessions in the first half, that was the game plan. Our best defense was our offense keeping our defense off the field.”
Smith was named Barbe’s Most Outstanding Player, finished with 4 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
“We fought until the end and gave it everything we had,” he said. “It is an honor just being here. “
Fontenot finished with 167 passing yards and 97 rushing yards.
Cutrera said the sour ending won’t stain his team’s season.
“They gave it their all, we have no regrets,” he said. “We did not get the win, but if you would have told me at the beginning of August that we would go 13-2, I would have said you were crazy. But not these guys, they have heart.“