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Opelousas High Falls To Lakeshore By Late Scoring Drive

It’s difficult to beat two opponents in the same game.

Opelousas High however discovered that was true Friday night, as the Tigers found themselves victimized by their own crucial mistakes as well as a Lakeshore High team that initiated a late-game scoring flurry and a signature win for the Titans’ football program.

Stares of anguish and disbelief smeared the faces of many Opelousas High players and supporters after the third-seeded Tigers with just over six minutes remaining, squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead as Lakeshore launched a remarkable two-touchdown comeback for a 35-34 Division II regional-round playoff victory at Donald Gardner Stadium.

The loss ended an Opelousas High season that featured an outright district championship, nine consecutive victories and a chance to capture a home playoff game win and quarterfinal playoff advancement for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.

Meanwhile Lakeshore (10-2), in a first season under head coach Brent Indest, advances to play No. 6 Lutcher, which defeated St. Martinville in another Division II Friday night contest.

Indest, whose head coaching stops have included Abbeville, Kaplan, Crowley, Carencro and Catholic High-New Iberia, led the Titans to the District 8-4A outright championship this year.

The Tigers, who compiled 427 total offensive yards, were plagued by their own crucial mistakes, which led to early Lakeshore touchdowns as well as the pair of Titans’ scores in the final third of the fourth period.

Lakeshore turned a first-quarter Opelousas High fumble into the first touchdown of the game and used a botched Tigers’ punt attempt in the second period to acquire possession and tie the game at 14 with 8:08 remaining before the intermission.

Then trailing 34-27, the Titans following a third pass reception for a touchdown, fell on an onside kick at the Opelousas 36 and used the recovery for the final score of the game with 4:21 left.

Lakeshore junior wide receiver Jaden Wells caught three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Samuel Willie, who often found Wells open amid a Tigers’ secondary that allowed the Titans 221 passing yards.

Wells finished with 117 receiving yards on six catches, while running back Colby Ziegler had six receptions for 99. Ziegler also ran nine times for 39.

Ziegler scored the final touchdown of the game with 3:57 left on an 11-yard run. Ziegler faked a run and then passed to Wells for a two-point conversion play that enabled the Titans to grab the ultimate one-point lead.

Opelousas afterward began a final offensive drive from the Tigers’ 32-yard line that reached as far as the Titans’ 13. The Opelousas threat dissipated with 20 seconds remaining as quarterback Zach Malveaux was sacked at the Lakeshore 17.

The Tigers ran for 331, as running back Da’Shaunn Ford gained 136 on 15 attempts and Malveaux ran for 126. Zy Amos gained 48 on five attempts.

Malveaux passed 10 times and his seven completions included a first-quarter 17-yard touchdown throw to senior Mekhi Jones, who finished the game with 86 receiving yards.

Opelousas led 14-7 at the end of the first period after the Malveaux-to-Jones throw and a 40-yard interception return by linebacker Dontay Washington.

Wells’ first touchdown catch was the only score of the second period.

In the third quarter, Malveaux broke loose on a 72-yard scoring run on the first play of the second half that helped the Tigers to a 22-14 lead.

Another Wells touchdown reception was the only score of a third period that enabled Opelousas to lead 22-20 entering the fourth.

During the fourth quarter, Opelousas High scored on possessions that saw Ford run for 56 yards and Malveaux move across the goal line from nine yards out.

However, on both TD’s the Tigers failed to add the extra points.