Erath head coach Eric LeBlanc is proud of his team's second half performance.

Erath drops opener; shows spirit in 2nd half

By Bruce Brown
Special to The Meridional

YOUNGSVILLE – Erath Bobcats fans had heard the song before.
They know the pain of last year’s 1-9 season, so they could be excused for thinking Friday’s loss at Ascension Episcopal was just the latest verse in the same old song.
But those who were there could see a spark emerge, one that could lead to better things to come for first-year head coach Eric LeBlanc.
While it is true that the image-damaged visitors started slowly and fell behind 20-0 to the Blue Gators, it also is encouraging that the Bobcats scored before halftime and fought AES on even terms in the second half.
In the end, the 27-12 final score offered something to buld upon.
“From the last 5 minutes of the first half through the rest of the game, you saw who we are as a team,” said LeBlanc, a former EHS player determined to bring the program back up to speed.
“We’re a team that runs the ball. We did what we do. We came out flat and didn’t execute early in the game.”
It looked bleak when Jhalen Brown scored AES’s third touchdown and made it 20-0 with 3:51 to play in the half.
Suddenly, though, junior Luke LeBlanc led a 6-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that provided a spark. The big play was a 41-yard pass to a leaping Matt Domingues that reached the AES 6 just 48 seconds before the break.
The Bobcats crept within 20-6 on the next play, as Curtis Cormier surged over for the score.
Then it was Jax Thibodeaux’s show to begin the third period. He carried on eight runs in a 14-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by LeBlanc’s 15-yard scoring strike to Domingues.
At 20-12, it was a one-possession game.
AES responded as most seasoned playoff programs would, striking back with a touchdown to create breathing room at 27-12.
The next two EHS marches ended in interceptions, and the Gators held on for victory.
But there was much to like in Erath’s renewed effort.
Thibodeaux, who had just 6 yards in the first half, finished with 96 to pace a 120-yard ground assault.
“Jax played a lot last year, and has gotten a lot better,” LeBlanc said. “And, of course, (tackle) Jax Harrington did well for us.”
The game was also a showcase for LeBlanc (17-of-26, 191 yards), who handled pressure well much of the night, and for Domingues, who had 8 catches for 121 yards.
“We had the first-game jitters,” coach LeBlanc said. “And we came out flat.”
That’s a familiar refrain from a year ago. But the Bobcats plan on re-writing the final verse after they found their rhythm in the second half on Friday.
The re-write starts in Week 2, at home against E.D. White.

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