STM captured their second consecutive state championship Monday night, defeating De La Salle 35-28, and finishing the year undefeated.

Unlike last year when the Cougars dominated the Cavaliers in the title game 58-10, this year's clash was much closer.

An entertaining game from start to finish, De La Salle attempt a surprise onside kick to start the game, but STM wasn't fooled, recovered it, and scored the game's first points 23 seconds into the first quarter.

Quarterback Walker Howard connected with wide receiver Jack Bech (both are LSU signees) for two receptions on the first drive, the second ending in a touchdown, giving the Cougars an early 7-0 lead.

Cavs running back Montrell Johnson was hard to contain all night and scored an equalizing touchdown in the 1st quarter from 28 yards out.

The first two touchdowns of the game were a sign of things to come, as Johnson, Bech, and Howard all put in incredible performances in their final high school game.

The Cougars took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter on a touchdown run by Christopher Morton and touchdown catch by Paxton Perret, and scored both quickly.

Following Morton's run, the Cougars recovered the ensuring kickoff, then Howard connected with Perret on the first play of the drive.

De La Salle responded as Johnson scored his second rushing touchdown of the game late in the 1st half, trimming the STM lead to 21-14 at halftime.

Both teams exchanged strong defensive stands in the 3rd quarter, with the Cougars turning the Cavs over on downs, and the Cavs procuring an interception.

In the 4th quarter, Johnson scored again for the Cavs, rushing it into the end zone on 4th and 2, and the game was tied at 21.

Shortly thereafter, Howard connected on a long touchdown pass to Bech, but the extra point was blocked.

The Cavs responded with another Johnson touchdown, the PAT was good, and they had their only lead of the game at 28-27 with 5:45 left in regulation.

STM regained the lead less than 2 minutes later when Howard hooked up with Perret from 23 yards out, then hit Bech in the end zone for a successful 2 point conversion, and the Cougars had a 35-28 lead.

Facing a 4th and 12 at the STM 23 yard line, De La Salle attempted a pass, but it was batted away by Jude LaSalla, as the Cougars offense then came onto the field and lined up in victory formation.

Bech finished the game with 10 catches for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Johnson rushed 29 times for 182 yards and four touchdowns. The two earned Most Oustanding Player honors.

Howard finished the contest going 18-26, 381 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception.

With the win, STM captured their third state championship in school history (2016, 2019, 2020).

It marks head coach Jim Hightower's 4th state championship, as he earned one 42 years ago with Catholic-Pointe Coupee.

Already a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Hightower's resume only gets stronger with age.

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