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Early big plays ignite St. James; Rams nipped by Assumption

  • Tags:
  • Feature Story
  • Game Recap
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • August 25, 2017 - 1:37am

Nico Davis (8) runs through a hole created by linemen Kyree Thorne (51) and Jayuan Pierce (53) in West St. John's jamboree game against Donaldsonville on Thursday night.

St. James used a pair of big plays on offense and another on defense in the first half and added a late touchdown in the second half for a 25-14 win Thursday over visiting Assumption in the second game of the River Parish Jamboree.

“I’m really happy with the way our kids came out and gave a lot of effort,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said. “This is a dress rehearsal and you are supposed to make some mistakes and all that. We popped some big plays and were able to build some momentum.”

West St. John was nipped by Donaldsonville 16-15 earlier in the jamboree that featured two, 15-minte halves.

St. James managed to take an 18-14 lead at halftime of its game against Assumption despite its first four possessions at the Wildcats’ 12, 8, 20 and 16 yard lines.

Two plays into their second possession the Wildcats jumped out on top on an 88-yard touchdown run by Dontaz Sterling to lead 6-0.

Assumption quickly gained the advantage on its ensuing possession on a 23-yard touchdown from quarterback Tijah Parker to Brad Hill Jr. to lead 8-6 with 9:58 remaining in the first quarter.

Three plays into St. James’ fourth possession that began at its own 16, She’n Joseph broke loose on an 81-yard pass play to set up quarterback Demarcus Williams’ 2-yard keeper one play later as SJH regained the lead at 12-8 at the 5:34 mark.

The Wildcats’ lead was short-lived as the Mustangs came up with a big play of their own when Zyshawn Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and a 14-12 Assumption edge.

St. James’ final big play of the first half came on defense when Shawn Preston forced a fumble deep in Assumption territory that was recovered by Jason Dumas in the end zone for an 18-14 SJH lead with 3:09 left before the half.

The only scored of the second half came with less than two minutes remaining in the game. A punt from deep in Assumption territory gave St. James the ball at the Mustangs’ 36. Four plays into the drive, Sean Lebeouf broke loose on a 23-yard touchdown run to account for the 25-14 final.

“We have to polish a lot of things and all that but to get those big plays, it was good to get them early against a real quality ball club,” Valdez said.

West St. John versus Donaldsonville: The Rams let a 13-0 halftime lead slip away in a game that was delayed 30 minutes early in the second half due to a nearby lightning strike.

After Donaldsonville was forced to punt to open the second half, play was halted on the Rams’ first possession of the period because of lightning.

Once play resumed, the Rams were quickly forced to punt. Facing third-and-17 from the West St. John 42, Donaldsonville quarterback Jaylin Williams scrambled for a touchdown as the Rams missed several tackles, allowing the Tigers to inch to within 13-8 at the 8:25 mark of the second half.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Rams quarterback D’andre Gaudia fumbled a snap from center, giving the ball right back to the Tigers at the West St. John 31. A 10-yard touchdown scamper by Jemon Pleasant and Pleasant’s two-point conversion run gave Donaldsonville a 16-13 lead with 5:22 left in the game.

In the closing moments of the game, the Tigers were forced to punt while facing fourth-and-18 from their own 12-yard line. Donaldsonville punter Rodrigue Aquendas ran around in the end zone for an intention safety to make the final 16-15.

West St. John marched 87 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead at the 6:55 mark of the first half.

The Rams converted a third-and-1 from their own 35 when Nico Davis went on a tackle-breaking 16-yard run.

Gaudia tossed an incomplete pass on third-and-11 from the Donaldsonville 29 but a penalty against the Tigers gave the Rams a more manageable third-and-6. After Guadia misfired again, he found Aason Moll in the left corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

West St. John made it 13-0 with 1:29 left in the first half.

Donaldsonville faced third down from its own 33 when Covan Barnes forced a fumble. The ball scooted backward, with Jonathan Porter recovering at the 3-yard line. It took four plays, but the Rams finally scored on a 2-yard run by Davis.

“That’s what we want to do. It was similar to last week (in a scrimmage against Lutcher). We wanted to capitalize off of other people’s mistakes – but we can’t make them ourselves and that’s what kind of hurt us at the end,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.

A Rams defense that provided constant pressure in the first half began to miss tackles in the second half following the lightning delay.

“We came out and then we went back in and came out again and it definitely affected the tempo and our momentum. We can’t make excuses. They (the Tigers) played the second half with the same conditions. We have to be able to finish and fight to the end and make sure we sustain the level of play we began with,” Walters said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.