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Win gives Tarpons 7-5A lead

South Lafourche's Norry Galjour (20) intercepts a pass intended for New Iberia's Nick Edwards (10) in the second quarter of Friday's District 7-5A game in New Iberia. (Photo by Lee Ball / The Daily Iberian)

NEW IBERIA — It was a tale of two halves when South Lafourche and New Iberia hooked up to settle first place in District 7-5A.

Fortunately for the Tarpons, they did enough in the first half to hang on for the win over the Yellow Jackets.

South Lafourche rode a wave of momentum in the first half to score four touchdowns and seemingly had the game in hand with a 21-point halftime lead. However, New Iberia wouldn't lie down and rallied in the second half scoring three times to make it a one score game with under a minute to play.

South Lafourche sealed the victory when Treavon Evans gathered an onsides kick as the Tarpons held on for a 28-26 win in Friday's District 7-5A game at Lloyd G. Porter Memorial Stadium.

Tarpons coach Dennis Skains said he knew New Iberia was going to respond in the second half, but his team made enough plays to get the win and to stay undefeated at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in district.

"Not the way you want to finish it. I thought we were going to come out a little different, and we have to do better if we want to reach the goals that we set for this season. But we did enough and we are going to enjoy this win," Skains said. "That is a heck of a football team, and their head coach is a class act. They have some great athletes, and they came out the second half and gave us everything that we could handle."

While New Iberia (5-2 overall, 3-1 in district) owned the second half, it was the Tarpons doing their damage in the first half.

After New Iberia took an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Jason Jones found Josh Richie on a 13-yard touchdown strike with 11:09 on the first quarter, the Tarpons closed out the first half with 28 straight points.

South Lafourche immediately answered when quarterback Colby Callais (188 yards passing, 69 yards rushing and three total touchdowns) scored on a 3-yard run with 10:16 still in the first quarter. Taylor Keller added the extra point tying the game at 7.

On the ensuing kickoff, New Iberia fumbled and Benny Serigny recovered the ball at the Tarpons 44. Nine plays later, South Lafourche's Jake Williams got in the end zone on a 7-yard run for a 14-7 lead with 7:20 still in the first quarter.

The Tarpons went up 21-7 in the second quarter when Callais and Zaron Jenkins hooked up on a 7-yard scoring pass that ended a 10-play 49-yard drive with 5:45 left in the second quarter.

South Lafourche's final score of the first half and game came on a big play when Callais found Evans (five receptions, 107 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions) on a 70-yard touchdown pass with 2:59 on the clock. Keller added the extra point for a 28-7 lead.

Evans was making plays on both sides of the ball as he ended the first half with an interception. Evans said that getting pressure on Jones and forcing bad passes helped the Tarpons build the early lead. The Tarpons ended the game with three interceptions.

"It was positive team effort. We played as a team and won as a team," Evans said. "Their quarterback hadn't thrown an interception in six games. (Getting pressure) was a key and our defensive line played a heck of a game for us."

The Tarpons started the third quarter with the ball, but were forced to punt then it was New Iberia's turn to light up the scoreboard.

Jones (25-of-44, 306 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions) wasted little time in hooking up with Andrew Ricks on a 45-yard scoring pass. The Yellow Jackets decided to go for a two-point conversion, but the Tarpons stopped it leaving the score 28-13 with 7:33 left in the third quarter.

New Iberia (346 total yards, 14 first downs) kept its momentum by recovering a fumble at its 44. Three plays later, Dre' Fusilier scored on a 2-yard run with 2:40 still to play in the third quarter. The extra point was no good leaving the Tarpons in front 28-19.

South Lafourche (390 total yards, 16 first downs) was stagnant in the third quarter converting just one first down, but Callais said that the credit goes to New Iberia for making adjustments.

"You have to give credit to them. They had a good game plan, and they made their adjustments at halftime. We came out explosive (in the first half) but we made a few mistakes (in the second half)," Callais said. "We missed some passes, but we have to look forward to next week and come out strong. The momentum kicked to us in the first half and we just ran with it."

New Iberia recovered another Tarpons fumble in the fourth quarter and moved into position for a field goal, but Vince Liner blocked the attempt leaving it a 28-19 score.

New Iberia wasn't done as it forced a punt and took possession at the Tarpons 40 with 57 seconds left in the game. The Yellow Jackets scored five plays later when Jones found Tyler Archon on a 6-yard touchdown pass and with the extra point it was 28-26 with 30 seconds remaining.

Evans recovered the onside kick and Callais took a knee to end the game putting the Tarpons alone in first place in District 7-5A.

It is the first time a Tarpons team has started 6-0 since the 1993 season, and Skains said that credit goes to his defense for controlling the Yellow Jackets' screen game, but he shoulders the blame for the offense going stale in the second half.

"Our defense thrives on turnovers, and we take pride in that. It was big game and their quarterback hadn't thrown many interceptions so we challenged our defense to get turnovers and hit him. He hasn't been hit much this season," Skains said. "It was on me, and we are a rhythm offense and Colby is a rhythm quarterback, but we wanted to slow them down. Ideally, we wanted to run the ball and get into the end zone, but it didn't happen. That is on me, but these kids earned this, and they deserved this. It is fun to win. You want to play in games that are battles and that makes it fun when you win."