- Feature Story
- Game Recap
- George Becnel
- November 19, 2016 - 12:23pm
The West St. John Rams have done it again and again.
For the second year in a row, the Rams entered the playoffs with a losing record and pulled off upsets in the first two rounds in reaching the Class 2A quarterfinals.
This time, the Rams defeated South Plaquemines 65-37. West St. John, the No. 24 seed, hits the road for the quarterfinals where it will take on the top-seeded Many Tigers. Many advanced with a 56-0 win over West St. Mary, the No. 17 seed.
“This is the time of year when our guys understand it’s for keeps and they will play their hearts out,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.
The Rams never made it easy. West St. John trailed St. Plaquemines 15-0 2:10 into the game. By the end of one quarter, the Rams were down 21-0.
“It just showed the character and toughness of these kids,” Walters said. “They responded. A lot of kids and teams would have quit, but they didn’t. The 21 points really upset them really bad and we just chipped away went in at halftime and made it a little better and it on after that.
“We are not afraid. We want to get to the Dome. That’s the goal.”
The Rams, now 5-7, have been through it all in the postseason over the past two years. West St. John trailed by 21 points in the second round of the playoffs year ago, rallying for a 34-30 win. Ironically, that win came against Many, also the top-ranked team a year ago.
“We did the same thing last year in round two,” said Jamal Walters, the coach’s son, who plays defensive back, wide receiver, and occasional quarterback. “We played Many and we were down 21-0. I said, ‘that’s nothing. That’s easy money.’ Once we scored the first that first touchdown, ‘it’s up to us defense.’
For almost three full quarters, defense didn’t seem to be a factor for either team.
That all changed after the Rams scored with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter to break a 37-37 tie.
West St. John’s defense forced a three-and-out on South Plaquemines’ ensuing possession from deep in Hurricanes’ territory. A short punt gave the Rams the ball at the South Plaquemines 38.
Rams quarterback Austin Alexander scrambled to pick up a first down by inches. The Hurricanes argued the call and a personal foul helped advance West St. John to the 14-yard line.
A penalty backed up the Rams to the 20-yard line. On the next play, Alexander saw the middle of the field open wide and he raced into the end zone for a touchdown and a 50-37 lead.
“That’s what good blocking does. They blocked it to perfection and I was able to score,” Alexander said.
“You can’t stop Austin in the open field. Unless you are in a car, he’s going to leave you,” said Brandon Walters through a wide grin.
On the Hurricanes’ next possession, an attempted reverse backfield, with Covan Barnes recovering for the Rams at the St. Plaquemines 26.
“It was big. It’s was surprising, actually,” said Barnes. “I just had to make a play for my team and get the ‘W.’”
Five plays later, Alexander spotted Walters in the left corner of the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
“I have trust in 14 and if I throw it up, I know he will get it,” Alexander said of Walters.
“I told my coach give me a shot, I had him. I trust my quarterback that he would get it there,” Walters said.
On the Hurricanes’ next play from scrimmage, Jarvis Roberson moved from receiver to quarterback. He tossed to quarterback Zach Smith, who was in the game at receiver. The high throw was tipped by Smith. Devrin Johnson grabbed the ball in midair and raced 33 yards for a touchdown. All of a sudden, the Rams were on top 65-37 with 5:54 left in the game.
“We knew we had to keep our foot on their throats. It’s the playoffs. You’ve got to win,” Johnson said.
The come-from-behind win proved improbable for everyone but the Rams.
“We just play with confidence. We never put our head down. We knew we could come back from 21-0 because we did it last year,” Alexander said.
West St. John had trouble scoring points during the regular season. Maybe the Rams were just saving them for the playoffs.
“This is for all the naysayers. We can put up points. We just have to put it together at the right time and make it work,” said Brandon Walters.
South Plaquemines scored on a 65-yard flea-flicker on the first play from scrimmage from Daron Powell to quarterback Drew Sanger to take a quick 8-0 lead.
An interception set up a 6-yard run by Hilton Sylve to give the Hurricanes a 14-0 lead. 2:10 in the game. A 12-yard run by Sylve gave South Plaquemines its 21-0 edge after one quarter.
The Rams roared back in the second quarter by scoring the next 28 points.
A 3-yard run by Kidric Gray and an 85-yard pass from Jamal Walters to Marcus Boudoin produced the first 12 points for the Rams.
“My coach surprised me. Austin was doing good and then he said, ‘go to quarterback, I need you to run this play for me.’ We drew it up and I just ran it,” Jamal Walters said.
A 28-yard run by Alexander and a 15-yard return by Alyjah Borne of a blocked punt gave West St. John a 24-21 lead with 1:01 left in the second quarter.
Sanger’s touchdown pass to Eli Bourgeois in the closing seconds of the first half gave South Plaquemines a 29-24 lead at the break.
West St. John built a 37-29 lead on a 44-yard touchdown reception by Boudoin and a 46-yard Alexander run.
South Plaquemines tied the game with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Bourgeois and a two-point conversion to set the stage for the wild finish.
Now, the Rams travel to Many the day after Thanksgiving to face the Many Tigers.
“We want to do something historic,” Brandon Walters said. “I don’t think they have lost in five years at home. We kind of had them when they came down here, me and the coaches talked and we went to a clinic in Houston and they said they wanted us again that hopefully they would see us in the playoff. They said, ‘we want to get you at home.’ I said, ‘we’ll see what happens.’ The stars have aligned. We will take a trip and see what happens.”