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Pine Praire running back Hayden Bourgeious (17) looks to get to the outside for some big yardage against the Montgomery Tiger defense Wednesday night. Bourgeious carried the ball 28 times for 122 yards and one score. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)

Grabbing the tiger by the tail

Pine Prairie falls short of valiant comeback against Montgomery

(Editor’s Note: All of the other games with Evangeline Parish teams were cancelled because of Hurricane Delta)
MONTGOMERY -- In a rare Wednesday night game, the Pine Prairie Panthers utilized a strong run game and a determined effort to close the gap to one touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Panthers, who had the Tigers by the tail, let Montgomery slip out of their hands as they fell 48-32 in a non-district contest.
After the game, defensive co-ordinator Richard Clark, filling in for head coach David Michael Carrell, who was unable to attend the game, talked about his team’s effort, especially in the second half.
“I am so proud of their effort here tonight,” stated Clark. “After the first half they could have shut it down and called it quits, but instead they came out and played football.”
The first quarter of play was not indicative of the type of gut check Pine Prairie put forth in the final three stanzas. In the initial period of the game, Montgomery had the Panthers’ number both offensively and defensively.
Pine Prairie received the opening kick and promptly gave the ball back when they could not pick up a first down.
The Tigers brought the ball to the 45-yard line on the return where the began their first drive of the night. That drive did not take long to produce points.
Two runs and two long pass plays later, quarterback Matthew Carter found wide out JT Turner in the end zone for an 18 yard pitch and catch. Montgomery opted for the two-point conversion and nailed it when Carter hit Ashton Randall on a stop route.
So, with 9:58 to go in the first quarter, the Tigers led 7-0.
On the ensuing possession, the Panthers were forced to punt again. The kick dropped Montgomery back to their 12-yard line, forcing the Tigers to try and drive the length of the field.
Montgomery did not need a long drive, however, as running back Mikel Auge busted loose for an 88 yard touchdown run on the very first play of the possession. The two-point pass was good from Carter to Ahre Willis, giving the Tigers a 16-0 lead with 5:28 to go in the first quarter.
Montgomery once again compelled Pine Prairie to punt the ball away and took over at their 20-yard line after the subsequent kick.
Mixing in the run and the pass, the Tigers marched the ball down the field, reaching the Pine Prairie 27-yard line in 10 plays. Facing a fourth and 13 from the Panther 27, Carter connected with Willis on a deep route for the third touchdown of the game for the Tigers.
The two-point pass from Carter to Ashton Randall was good and with 11:49 to go in the second quarter, Montgomery led 24-0.
On the very first play of the ensuing possession, the Panthers turned the ball over deep in their territory when Montgomery forced an interception.
Undaunted, the Panthers returned the favor, this time for points. On second and 10 from the Pine Prairie 31-yard line, Carter tried to throw an out route to Turner.
Pine Prairie’s Lucas Ricks undercut the pass, picked the ball off at the 25-yard line and raced 75 yards for the Panther touchdown. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 24-6 in favor of the Tigers with 10:58 to go in the half.
Montgomery went back to work and moved the ball from their 40-yard line down to the Pine Prairie six-yard line, following the kick return. On the fifth play of the drive, Auge blasted his way in from six yards out to extend the Tiger lead. The two-point pass was good, putting Montgomery on top 32-6 with 8:15 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers were not about to let the game slip away. On their next drive, Pine Prairie pounded the ball with running back Hayden Bourgeious, finding their way to the Montgomery 30-yard line.
A 28 yard connection between quarterback Branson Fontenot and wide receiver Da’jon Lemalle put the Panthers at the Tiger two-yard line. One play later, Bourgeious plunged his way into the end zone to cut into Montgomery’s lead. The two-point run failed making it a 32-12 game with 5:21 to go in the half.
The Panther defense stepped up on the Tigers’ ensuing drive, compelling them to punt the ball away.
With the momentum beginning to swing Pine Prairie’s way, the Panthers wasted little time getting back on the board. After receiving the Montgomery punt at their own 26-yard line, Fontenot threw a perfect ball to a wide open Dylan Bordelon down the seam on the second play of the drive.
Bordelon collected the ball and outraced all Tiger defenders for a 71 yard touchdown. The two-point run failed, however, the Pine Prairie had cut the Montgomery lead down to 14, 32-18, with 2:10 to go in the first half.
The Tigers, sensing the tide of the game changing, found the end zone once again before the half could come to an end. Taking over at their 47-yard line the Tigers ran the ball twice and then found their quick strike offense once again when Carter connected with Turner on a 53 yard pass three plays into the drive. The two-point pass succeeded giving Montgomery a 40-18 lead heading into the locker room.
Whatever halftime speech was put forth by the Pine Prairie coaching staff seemed to rejuvenate the Panthers. Defensively, Pine Prairie ramped up the intensity enough to stop Montgomery on the opening drive of the third quarter.
The Panthers took over possession at their 32-yard line following the punt and methodically advanced down the field. On the ninth play of the drive, Lemalle sliced into the end zone from seven yards out to make it a two score game. The two-point run failed, but the Tigers’ lead was now down to 16, 40-24, with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Montgomery went back to work on offense, pushing the ball down to Pine Prairie eight-yard line on their next drive. On fourth and goal, Carter tried to fit the ball into a crowd and Panther defensive back Chase Freeman picked the ball off at the five-yard line.
Once again, with the momentum pendulum swinging in their favor, Pine Prairie did not waste the turnover. Aided by a 40 yard pass from Fontenot to Josiah Ortis, the Panthers found their way down to the Tiger 37-yard line.
Following a short run, Fontenot once again found Ortis, this time on a slant route, for a 32 yard touchdown connection. The two-point pass from Fontenot to Lemalle was good and with 10:22 to go in the final quarter, the Panthers had cut the Tiger lead to 40-32.
Montgomery took over at their 15-yard line after the kickoff and, after a long run and a face mask penalty by the Pine Prairie, found themselves at the Panther 12-yard line. On the ensuing play, a bad snap led to the Pine Prairie defense coming up with a huge turnover on the fumble recovery.
With a little over six minutes left in the game, the Panthers looked to drive the ball down the field and try and tie the game up. Pine Prairie went to work, grinding the ball down to the Montgomery 33-yard line.
On the very next play, the Panthers tried a sweep play around their left side. The ball was stripped from the running back and Turner scooped up the ball for the Tigers, racing 55 yards to pay dirt, effectively shutting the door on the Pine Prairie comeback effort.
The two-point run was good, giving the Tigers a 16 point lead and a win.
“We went in at halftime and told the players this is about each other and every one out here,” said Carter. “We were not focused and tried to walk through this football game. Fortunately, we came back out and re-focused. We still have things to clean up, but they did not shut it down or quit.”
Bourgeious finished the night with 28 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. Lamelle toted the ball 10 times for 55 yards and a score.
Fontenot was six of 10 for 198 yards and two touchdowns, while Bordelon hauled in two passes for 98 yards.

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