Acadiana defeats Alexandria to become fourth Lafayette team to win a state title this year
NATCHITOCHES — The cheers rang out as time expired in the Class 5A state championship game on Wednesday night.
They weren't for Acadiana, who had just won its second straight title. They were for the 337, the Lafayette area code. For the first time, four Lafayette teams won a state championship in the same year.
During the year, the four teams are competitors who play each other often. Now, they are united as state champions.
"Lafayette is just built different," running back Tyvin Zeno said. "We're a different breed."
St. Thomas More (Division II), Lafayette Christian Academy (Division III) and Carencro (Class 4A) completed their missions earlier this week. Acadiana waited its turn back in Lafayette, anxiously watching their parish mates win their games.
On Wednesday, Acadiana (11-1) got its turn, and they didn't wasted the opportunity. The Rams defeated Alexandria 35-34 in a nail-bitter at Northwestern State's Harry Turpin Stadium.
"Those guys do a great job," coach Matt McCullough said. "I just think its an awesome thing for the city. There are a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches."
The No. 6 Trojans (7-2) didn't make it easy for the No. 1 Rams. Acadiana was up by 14 with just over three minutes left in the game. The Rams seemed to have it all sealed up, but Alexandria had other plans.
The Trojans marched down the field, scoring a touchdown with just under two minutes left to get within seven points of the Rams. Alexandria recovered the onside kick, then scored again less than a minute later. The Trojans went for two, but it was intercepted in the end zone by Laterrance Welch.
Welch, who missed most of the season with an injury, was only cleared to return two weeks ago.
"It was a crazy ending," McCullough said. "They made some plays at the end to give themselves a chance to win."
The Rams relied on their running game, only passing the ball a handful of times. Zeno left the game with an injury, but returned in the second half. He finished with 102 rushing yards and was named the game's outstanding player.
"I knew I had to come back," Zeno said. "I wasn't going to sit out. I had to play."
Aside from Carencro, who defeated Edna Karr 35-19 on Tuesday, the Lafayette teams had tough battles in their respective championship games. There are now calls for the city to host a parade to honor this historic feat.
"It's pretty awesome," McCullough said. "We've got good football in Lafayette. I think its a pretty awesome thing for the city of Lafayette. I'm proud of our guys and I'm proud of the other teams."