Those last 9 seconds felt like an eternity.
The score was 13-10 in favor of South Lafourche.
But South Terrebonne was driving — fresh off a 4th and 18 conversion.
It was third and goal from the 4-yard-line. Quarterback Christian Arceneaux rolled to his right — on the search for green grass. But there was none. He was crushed by the defense, then was dropped.
There were exactly 9 seconds on the clock.
Some Gators coaches appeared to signal to the offense to clock the ball, but they couldn’t. It was fourth down.
The field goal team didn’t have time to run onto the field.
Arceneaux, himself, was shaking out the cobwebs after taking a big hit, and all the while, the clock kept slowly bleeding out.
3 … 2 … 1… 0 … victory.
For the first time all season, South Lafourche had won a game — a stunning, 13-10 upset of the Gators.
After the game, coach Blake Forsythe was happy and relieved. After losing six-straight games to open the year, he and his team were under a lot of pressure.
But they released that pressure and were able to exhale — at least for one week — after a huge, thrilling, last-second win.
“Like you said, the ending felt like it took forever,” Forsythe said. “We made the play, and my only focus was just getting our guys back on our side of the ball so we didn’t get a 15-yard penalty to stop the clock and give them a chance. It felt like a lifetime, but eventually those 9 seconds came off the clock and we were just able to get the win. It was a wild finish, but we were happy to be on the right end of it.”
For South Lafourche, the victory was after a week of chaos.
The Tarpons played a brutal non-district schedule and started 0-5. But district was supposed to be better, and after losing 18-3 to Vandebilt, there were little birdies chirping about the program.
But Forsythe and his staff went to work this week, adding new looks to the team’s struggling option-based offense.
Instead of just Flex-based inside running, the Tarpons added some off-tackle I-formation power plays.
On the first drive of the game, the Tarpons went straight down the field and scored a touchdown.
Throughout the game, quarterback Patrick Gisclair and backs Derin Doucet and Braxton Pitre moved the offense forward behind a powerful offensive line.
“It was our same base offense, but just some little wrinkles added to it,” Forsythe said. “We ran off-tackle some, we ran out of some different formations. And I think by having those different looks, it was able to open up our option stuff a little bit more, too. We were able to keep the defense guessing.”
And by having the football a little more and possessing it more efficiently throughout the game, the Tarpons’ defense was able to keep enough gas in the tank to win the game late.
South Lafourche has been dominant defensively throughout the season, but they’ve gotten little help on the scoreboard from their offense.
South Lafourche held mighty Thibodaux to 12 points and has been up to the challenge against several of the high-powered offenses the team has faced this year.
The Tarpons are stout up front with guys like Elijah Barnett, Timmy Gisclair, Hunter Condley, Wes Allemand, Austin Danos and others stopping the run. In the back-end, Joseph Pierce, Caleb Carr, Nathan Aucoin, Brodie Guidry and others are locking up receivers, and if quarterbacks get loose with the ball, free safety Jake Pitre is snatching it out of the air.
“Those guys have been good all season,” Forsythe said. “We sometimes run out of gas a little bit, but those kids compete and give us everything they have every time we take the field.”
The problem to this point had been an anemic offense that asked that defense to be on the field too long, but on Friday night, that wasn’t the case.
The Tarpons scored 13 points and had chances for more. The team missed an extra point and a short field goal.
And more important than the actual points was the time of possession in the game, which was about even — a rarity this season for South Lafourche.
So now, looking ahead, the Tarpons have some seemingly calmer waters ahead. They’ll be favored to beat both Morgan City and Ellender in the next two weeks, and if they do, they’ll play a likely district championship game at Assumption in Week 10.
If the Tarpons win the final three games, they’re a lock for postseason. If they win two of the three, they’ll be close.
But heck, to be talking about the playoffs after how this season has started out? That’s something no one expected 3-4 days ago for this team.
“Our goals are still in front of us,” Forsythe said. “We just have to keep working and keep improving and keep trying to be as good as we can be.”