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Comets capture 10-3A title with 13-7 overtime win over St. James

  • Tags:
  • Game Recap
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • November 02, 2018 - 10:38pm

Frank Monica's St. Charles Comets claimed the District 10-3A championship with a 13-7 overtime win at St. James on Friday night.

St. Charles Catholic has won a lot of hard-fought games over the years by waiting for an opponent to make a mistake and then being able to capitalize.

For most of Friday night’s game at St. James, it appeared as though that mistake might ever come.

But one play after St. James halted a Comets drive when a pass to tight end Jacob Ganote came up a yard short or fourth-and-8 at the Wildcats’ 9-yard line, but big break finally came with four minutes left in regulation.

St. Charles was unable to generate much offense against a speedy, hard-hitting Wildcat defense for much of the night. SCC, as it has done throughout the season, stayed in the game with a stout defense of its own and trailed 7-0 when the Comets finally got the break they were looking for.

Reggie Hackett recovered a Sean Lebeouf fumble on the Wildcats’ first play of the ensuing possession, giving the ball back to the Comets at the St. James 9-yard line

As it had done throughout the game, the St. James defense held, putting the Comets into a fourth-and-goal situation from the 5-yard line.

St. Charles dragged a receiver across the middle. The pass attempt by Comets quarterback Justin Dumas was incomplete. A late penalty flag for pass interference against the Wildcats gave SCC a first down at the 2-yard line.

Dumas hit Joe Chiarella on the next play to tie the game with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.

“It was a late flag, plus it was a tipped pass…Ethically, as coaches, we are instructed by the ‘code’ to not challenge these things publicly but to conduct them behind the scenes, but in a stage like this when you have two great programs going at it with a lot of implications on the line, I can’t live with that. I can’t tolerate that,” and emotional St. James coach Robert Valdez said after the game.

The was tied 7-7 but the Wildcats were not quite done.

Wildcat receiver Tyshone Williams made a juggling catch along the sideline in front of the St. James bench that give SJH a first down at the St. Charles 23 with 1:25 left in the game.

St. James reached the 11-yard line but an Alec Mahler field goal attempt was blocked by the Comets on the final play of regulation to force overtime.

“When we get in a situation like that, we put all 11 up and they all rushed. I really don’t know where the block came from. We will have to look at the film but I think Mason Narcisse got it,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.

St. James got the ball first in overtime and faced fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. A pass by Wildcats quarterback Shamar Smith was tipped and intercepted by Jordan Brown.

“I just saw it and I was like, ‘I gotta get it. I gotta get it.’ I grabbed it and started running with it,” Brown said.

“It was tremendous,” Monica said of his team’s defensive effort in overtime. “I think our guys finally realized they were in a dog fight. Late in the ball game, we started playing with a little bit more bounce in our step.”

On the Comets’ first play from scrimmage in overtime, Dumas was hit at the line of scrimmage, bounced off a would-be Wildcat tackler and raced in for the touchdown and a 13-7 triumph that gave St. Charles the District 10-3A title.

“We practiced overtime plays on Thursday,” Dumas said. “We didn’t expect to do that but then we found ourselves in that position.

“We’ve faced some good 5A teams. I have a lot of respect for (the Wildcats) and they will go far in the playoffs.”

The win allowed St. Charles to capture the district title at 5-0 in league play and 7-3 overall.

“That’s pretty special because we hadn’t had one since 2012,” Monica said of the district title. “The main reason was we were in there (the same district) as John Curtis and now the Catholic League people are finding out what it’s like to be in their district. Riverside had it for two years. We’ve had some real good competition.”

The loss dropped St. James to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in district play.

While the Comets were celebrating a district championship, the Wildcats were dealing with a hard-fought, emotional defeat.

“My kids played their hearts out,” Valdez said. “They came out and had a good week of practice. We had a good game plan on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we didn’t want to shoot ourselves and give them too many extra opportunities. Defensively, I thought we played lights out.

“What frustrates me is that when you play like this and you come out here and prepare like this and these things that happen to you that are out of your control – leave it on the field. That’s a great football team. They dress 80 kids, we have about 50. Leave it on the field. These guys that come out here and dictate the game and our future – it hurts. I’m trying to be as professional as I can but this ain’t right. I have to go and console these kids. I have to go and prepare them, recharge them and motivate them and make a playoff run – we worked hard for this opportunity and for it to end the way it did, that’s not right.”

St. James beat St. Charles at its own game of field position and defense to lead 7-0 at halftime.

The Wildcats flipped the field when forced to punt from their own 26 and Mahler boomed a kick that backed up the Comets at their own 18-yard line.

Holding St. Charles to a single yard, St. James forced a Comets punt, giving the ball to the Wildcats at midfield.

Keeping the ball on the ground for 9 of 10 plays on the possession, St. James capped the lone scoring drive of the first half on a 6-yard run by Lebeouf at the 1:33 mark of the first quarter for a 7-0 Wildcats lead.

On the possession prior to the St. James fumble late in the game, St. Charles had three key third-down conversions. One came on a personal-foul penalty against the Wildcats after SJH seemed to come up with a defensive stop at the Comets’ 29.

Dumas, who took a pounding against St. James’ aggressive defense, missed the series after being banged up moments earlier. Sutton Bourgeois came up with a big third-down pass completion to extend the drive at the St. James 41.

“It’s a credit to Justin coming back and Sutton Bourgeois for coming in and handing the offense when Justin went down. Credit to our resiliency,” said Monica.

An 8-yard run by Phillip Tran led to another third-down conversion at the St. James 30.

The Comets failed to produce any points on the drive when Ganote came up a yard short on fourth down to hand the ball to the St. James, but SCC managed to use up valuable time off the clock and set the stage for the overtime triumph.

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.