WALKER – For Hahnville, it was all about balance.
For Walker, that spelled the end of a solid season.
The Tigers passed for 170 yards and ran for another 191, virtually splitting those numbers between halves in picking up a 35-9 win Friday over the Wildcats in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“This week was all about stopping the run, and we shut the run down pretty well in the first half,” Walker linebacker Cade Seymour said. “We were expecting the pass (in the second half), and they got us on a couple of plays. We just got outplayed. Bottom line. That’s just what happened.”
The Wildcats got into a bind on the first play of the game when Byron Lockhart Jr., who was the team's 'Wildcat' quarterback, was intercepted. That enabled Hahnville to put together a 60-yard scoring drive that was aided by a facemask which set the Tigers up at the Walker 16.
Two plays later, quarterback Andrew Robison connected with Jha’Quan Jackson on a 16-yard TD pass for a 7-0 lead.
No. 11 Walker (8-3) answered with an 11-play scoring drive with Lockhart carrying five times for 44 yards. The drive stalled at the Hahnville 6, and the Wildcats settled for a 23-yard field goal from Bradley Cain to cut the lead to 7-3.
“It was just the plays that they set up for us,” Lockhart said of the Wildcats’ success running the ball on the drive. “I’m small, so I can hide behind the line good, and I just read and I just go.”
No. 22 Hahnville (6-5) padded the lead on its next drive with Robison finding Jackson behind the secondary on a 49-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-3.
“It was a busted coverage by our free safety, and the kid … got behind him,” said Walker coach Cecil Thomas, who coached his first game after being named the team’s permanent head coach earlier in the week. “The quarterback’s special. He’s got a good arm and he times everything up. He did a good job.
“We didn’t expect it. You never (get it) until you see him, and the kid’s legit.”
The teams traded punts, with the Tigers fumbling at their 1-yard line to set up a punt, which gave the Wildcats the ball at the Hahnville 30.
Five plays later, wide receiver Brian Thomas made a leaping grab in the end zone to pull down an 11-yard TD pass from Ethan McMasters. The PAT failed, making the score 14-9.
From there, the Tigers went on a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive on which Robison went 5-for-6 for 54 yards passing, capped by a 15-yard TD pass to Jerry Spencer with 33 seconds left before halftime.
“You can’t get dig yourself a hole in a playoff game,” Cecil Thomas said. “You’ve got to come out and you’ve make plays and you’ve got to find a way to get on top.”
Robison finished the first half 10-for-13 for 170 yards.
As sound as those passing numbers were, the Tigers’ rushing game was equally effective in the second half, as Robison attempted just three passes in the second half with no completions.
Instead, Brandon Comardelle took over on the ground, busting a 44-yard TD run just four plays into the second half for a 28-9 lead. The TD run was set up when the Wildcats were flagged for offsides on third-and-1 at the Walker 49.
Walker punted, and Comardelle fought his way for a 39-yard gain to the Wildcat 21. Robison, who played in his first game last week after being ruled ineligible at the start of the season, followed with a 16-yard scamper, setting up his 1-yard TD run two plays later for what turned out to be the final margin with 6:16 left in the third quarter.
Comardelle finished with 151 yards on 21 carries.
“They found some creases in us, and they got us in a zone read a couple times and that killed us,” Coach Thomas said. “The quarterback was able to run the ball and keep drives alive.”
McMasters, who went 10-for-19 for 72 yards as the Wildcats put up 134 yards of total offense, lost a fumble on the next drive, allowing the Tigers to go on a clock-chewing 10-play drive that ended when Spencer was stopped on fourth-and-goal at the Walker 4.
Neither team was able to put anything together the rest of the way.
“I feel like we did good, but we just didn’t do enough,” said Lockhart Jr., led the team with 59 yards on 10 carries. “Hopefully they can do way better than we did this year.”
That’s what Cecil Thomas is hoping for.
“It’s been a great year,” Thomas said. “I’m real proud of the senior class. A lot of great kids in the senior class, and they left a great legacy here. They’ve left some building blocks we can build on. Now we’ve got to get back to work and be able to get over this hump and continue to be a successful program.”
HAHNVILLE 35, WALKER 9
HAHNVILLE 14 7 14 0 -- 35
WALKER 3 6 0 0 -- 9
HAHN – Jha’Quan Jackson 16 pass from Andrew Robison (Ethan Chacon kick)
WHS – Bradley Cain 23 FG
HAHN –Jackson 49 pass (Chacon kick)
WHS – Brian Thomas 11 pass from Ethan McMasters (kick failed)
HAHN – Jerry Spencer 11 pass from Robison (Chacon kick)
HAHN – Brandon Comardelle 44 run (Chacon kick)
HAHN – Robison 1 run (Chacon kick)
18 First downs 10
31-191 Rushes-yards 20-63
170 Passing yards 71
10-16-0 Passing (C-A-I) 10-20-2
2-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-1
3-23 Punts-Avg. 4-42.75
6-65 Penalties-Yards 5-72