Vandebilt's defense helps team into quarters
Sat. November 17, 2012 at 12:14 a.m. | By Kelly McElroy/Staff Writer
Vandebilt's defense swarms around Franklin Parish's Deon White (2) Friday. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)
The clock was winding down in the second quarter, and Vandebilt Catholic was a missed tackle away from going down by two touchdowns at halftime to Franklin Parish in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs on Friday night.
But Terriers senior linebacker Tristan Guillory was there to make the play.
Guillory got to the edge and made a one-on-one tackle on a Patriots runner who had nothing but Guillory between himself, the end zone, and a two touchdown Patriots lead at halftime.
But because of Guillory's tackle, Franklin Parish was forced to punt, the Terriers answered with a touchdown that made it a one-point game at the half, grabbed the momentum and went on for a 20-15 victory at Buddy Marcello Stadium and are now headed to play No. 1 Neville in the Class 4A quarterfinals next week in Monroe.
Guillory's play was a microcosm of the Terriers defense on Friday night. After it allowed two first-quarter touchdowns and Vandebilt got down 15-0, the Terriers were there time and time again to stop the No. 9 Patriots on offense and held them scoreless for the final three quarters. In fact, the No. 8 Terriers (11-1) limited the Patriots, who featured a massive offensive line and entered averaging close to 350 yards a game on the ground, to just 245 total yards (185 rushing).
"I am really proud of our defense. We are starting to step up," Guillory, who added a key sack for a big loss in the third quarter, said. "All season long our offense carried us. We knew in the playoffs the defenses were better and our offense wasn't going to be able to do it all so we knew we had to step up and so far, we are getting it done."
Not only did the defense keep getting the ball back for the Vandebilt offense and star quarterback Elijah McGuire, it preserved the come-back victory after McGuire scored on a 6-yard run to give the Terriers a 20-15 lead with just over 2 minutes to play. Down by five points, Franklin Parish (9-3) took over at its own 35 and later got 25 yards on a screen pass down to the Vandebilt 42. But with 1:16 left, Vandebilt junior safety Jordan Bergeron made a diving interception fully extended on an under-thrown ball that secured the win for the Terriers.
"We knew if Eli would get into the end zone, we would stop them," Bergeron said of holding the Patriots on their last offensive possession. "We just worked hard all game. It was a great team effort, and we came out on top. I was the one who just happened to make the play."
Even when the Patriots did convert on a big play or picked up a key first down, the Terriers kept digging in on defense.
"The key is when you let a couple big plays happen, you have to flush your memory," Bergeron said. "You have to get the next play. They had some good athletes, and we have some good athletes. We knew it was going to be a fight until the end. We knew it was going to come down to the last possession and it did. We played hard and kept fighting."
Terriers coach Brad Villavaso, a former linebacker, was beaming after his team's defensive performance.
"I told them all we had to do was play our defense as hard as you can and strain your body and good things were going to happen, and they did," Villavaso said. "We knew this team didn't throw the ball, and we felt like if we could get them behind the sticks, we had a chance. The defense came through."
Villavaso said the defense wasn't shaken after giving up the first-quarter scores and getting down 15-0.
"We weren't rattled. Our guys knew that we made mistakes," Villavaso said. "Our guys never gave up. It's a credit to them. They believed they could win even when we got down 15-0. They knew the game wasn't over until it was over."