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Thibodaux finds a spark vs. South Terrebonne

Thibodaux's Jaquan Chenier (left) slips the tackle of South Terrebonne's Adam Cook (bottom) as teammate Randall Norman (78) looks on during Friday's scrimmage at Nicholls State University's John L. Guidry Stadium. (Photo by Addie Gibbons /Correspondent)

Neither Thibodaux coach Chris Dugas or his starting senior quarterback Donta Johnson were proud of how the Tigers' first-unit offense performed during the controlled portion of Friday's scrimmage against South Terrebonne at Nicholls State's John L. Guidry Stadium.

The Tigers failed to put together a touchdown drive during the controlled portion, which consisted of both first and second units getting 12 plays per series.

But it was a different story for Thibodaux's offense during the one 15-minute live quarter of scrimmage.

The Tigers scored on every drive of the live quarter, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Johnson, a 3-yard touchdown run on a motion handoff play from receiver Jason Richard and a 50-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to a wide-open Richard to give the Tigers a 21-0 win.

The final score of the live quarter was meaningless, but Johnson said he was happy to see Thibodaux's offense show signs of its explosive potential.

"We really did a good job toward the end," said Johnson, who moved from running back to quarterback this season. "I didn't like how we started in the beginning. We started off slow. We can't do that against the other teams."

On the first play of the live quarter, Johnson, a first-team All-State running back last season, scrambled for a big 40-yard run that gave the Tigers all the momentum.

"We needed a spark," Johnson said. "I felt like I could make that happen. On the first play, I needed a big play to turn the game around. I ran for a 40-yard run, and that changed the game and really turned it around for us."

During the controlled portion, South Terrebonne's defense swarmed to the ball and kept the Tigers from getting anything going on offense.

Dugas said he was excited to see Thibodaux's offense finally wake up in the live quarter.

"It just looked like we weren't ready or focused," Dugas said. "South Terrebonne came out and knocked us in the mouth. They were real physical at the beginning. Finally in the live quarter, the offense started moving the ball with some tempo. We got the ball down the field a couple of times. We got a lot better in the last quarter. I'm happy to see how we ended."

For South Terrebonne, just getting an opportunity to play on a dry field was a win.

Recent rainy weather have been a setback for the Gators, forcing the team to practice mostly in their gym during fall camp. Friday's scrimmage was originally scheduled to be held at South Terrebonne Memorial Stadium, but bad field conditions moved it to Nicholls.

Although they struggled in the live portion, Gators coach Richard Curlin said he was excited just to see his team get some work done without worrying about rain.

"If I had the choice of winning the lottery or getting a dry week, I'd take a dry week right now," Curlin said. "That's all we're hoping for. We're desperate for it. It was good work for us (Friday). We've been in the gym so much that we were just happy to be out here and get on the field and get against somebody else and get some good work in. That was the main thing for us."

Curlin said the Gators kept things simple on offense, as they used to scrimmage as a way to work on fundamentals in a game-type situation.

"There was some mistakes," Curlin said. "We gave up some big plays in the live period. We've got small numbers this year. We've got some guys that are going both ways, so we had some fatigue there. We are going to have to work our way through it as the season goes on. Overall, I was pleased with how we performed. We're just going to look at the tape and see what changes we need to make."

Dugas said he was impressed with the play of the Tigers' new 4-3 defense in the live portion, which prevented the Gators offense from crossing the 50-yard line during the 15-minute period. Senior defensive lineman Victor Bimah had two quarterback sacks, a forced fumble and made all three of his extra point attempts as a kicker, while junior defensive tackle Marquis Garman wrapped up several big tackles.

"I was really happy with how the defense the entire scrimmage," Dugas said. "I was happy with the defensive intensity. I think the defense's intensity led to the success of our offense in the live quarter in taking care of business."

During the controlled scrimmage, South Terrebonne's Payeson Verdin had a 4-yard touchdown run, while Thibodaux defensive back Chris Bryant scored on a pick-6 touchdown play off a tipped pass.

In a goal-line portion of the scrimmage, Thibodaux scored three out of five times on short runs from Johnson, Richard and Iryan Baptiste, while South Terrebonne only scored once on a push from fullback Jermaine Washington.

Both teams had a couple of injuries take place during the scrimmage.

Dugas said offensive tackle Bryce Poincon and receiver Keyton Morvant left the scrimmage with knee injuries. South Terrebonne defensive back Jericho Encarnacon limped off the field with a knee injury.