- Feature Story
- Game Recap
- George Becnel
- September 16, 2017 - 12:52am
St. James pulled off the rivalry trifecta and it took three overtimes to do it Friday night in Vacherie.
With the score tied 21-21 and St. James having the ball first in the third overtime, the Wildcats faced fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line. St. James quarterback Demarcus Williams hit Dontaz Sterling with a touchdown toss to put the Wildcats on top. A two-point conversion attempt, mandated by overtime rules when the game reaches three extra periods, was no good, leaving St. James with a 27-21 lead.
“We drew up a great play and we executed it very well,” Williams said of his touchdown toss. Williams ended the game 17 of 23 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 17 yards and two additional scores.
“I had to put the team on my back and step up and be a leader,” Sterling said of his catch. “It’s all about executing and giving it your all.
“I knew I was going to catch it. I had it in my heart.”
“Demarcus is our leader. They started stacking the line of scrimmage and the linebackers were playing real, real tight and we have some young receivers and we asked them to make some big plays. You just have to have confidence in them,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said of the decision to throw the football.
In a defensive battle, the Wildcats turned to its defense one last time.
Like St. James moments earlier, E.D. White (2-1) faced third-and-goal. The call went to Nik Shanklin instead of keeping it in the hands of quarterback Brandon Legendre. The running back went wide to his left and was dropped by Wildcat defenders Chase Geason and Chase Davis, allowing St. James to hold on for a 27-21 thriller to move to 3-0 on the season.
“They were tired but they rose to the occasion,” Valdez said of his defense. “They are a great team and that kid’s (Legendre) a great athlete. He’s hard to contain him. We made plays when it counted down the stretch.”
“This was a great game. You can’t be upset with either team. It was a great effort and we came up on the short end. They made a defensive play,” E.D. White coach Chris Bergeron said.
“I was so proud of my guys. We worked Monday through Thursday for that. The running after practice, the weights in the weight room, that’s where it all comes from,” said St. James defender Shawn Preston, a Mississippi State commitment.
It was an emotional time or E.D. White beyond the playing field. Darin Fontz, a former girls basketball coach and one-time Cardinals assistant football coach, died from cancer at age 51 earlier in the week. Before the game, cardinal red, white and silver balloons were released in his honor. His funeral is Saturday.
“Darin was a big part of our school. He was a big part of our community. His last message to us was, ‘ya’ll just keep winning.’ We gave it our best shot and we just came up a little short,” Bergeron said.
It’s threes that are wild for the Wildcats instead of deuces. St. James moved to 3-0 on the season with wins over three rivals. The wins also came in three different ways. Against West St. John in the season opener the Wildcats needed a frantic rally. Versus Lutcher, St. James took the early lead and had to hold on. Against E.D. White, the team had to endure three overtimes.
“All different victories and we found a way. I’m glad to be 3-0 against those three teams and it’s exciting for us,” said Valdez.
“I’m so happy for that because that hasn’t happened so long in St. James history. The class of 2018, we did it,” Preston said of beating three rivals in the same season.
Regulation ended with the score 7-7. The Cardinals won the coin toss and elected to have St. James take the opening possession. In high school, overtimes begin at the opposition’s 10-yard line.
St. James needed only two plays to score. Williams ran in from 3-yards out and Alec Mahler added the extra point to give the Wildcats a 14-7 edge.
Legendre ran for 9 yards on first down and scored from a yard out one play later. Miles Loker’s conversion forced a second overtime.
E.D. White started the second overtime and needed only one play to score when Legendre scrambled to his left and raced 10 yards for a 21-14 Cardinals lead. The EDW quarterback rushed for 71 yards on 17 carries in the game with three touchdowns.
St. James faced fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when Williams scored to tie the game at 21-21 and force the third overtime.
Three overtimes can overshadow what had been a great defensive game but Friday night’s encounter was a defensive gem by both units.
“It was a great defensive game all the way through. We made our mistakes and they made their mistakes and it turned out to be a great football game,” Bergeron said.
The first half was scoreless when E.D. White was forced to punt from its own 28-yard line. St. James’ Glen Brown, who came up with a fumble recovery earlier in the game, fumbled on the punt return, giving the ball back to the Cardinals at the Wildcats’ 32 with 2:53 left before halftime.
Facing third-and-11, Legendre scrambled before hitting Hunter Tabor for 12 yards and a first down. Four plays later, Legendre ran wide right for an 11-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left in the second quarter to give EDW a 7-0 lead at the break.
The Cardinals had a chance to take a bigger lead at halftime but a punt return by Michael Clement inside the 5-yard line and another by the dangerous EDW return man inside the 20 were called back.
“One was a clip that I saw. One wasn’t a clip. The second one Mike returned, I didn’t think he clipped the kid but I’ll have to check it out on film,” said Bergeron.
Yards were hard to come by in the first half but on the first play from scrimmage to open the third quarter, Sterling, who rushed for 93 yards and had 66 reception yards, broke loose on a 28-yard gallop, and all of a sudden, the Wildcats were at the EDW 37.
Eventually facing fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Williams hit Shamar Smith with a touchdown toss to tie the game.
Each team missed a field goal down the stretch that could have averted overtime.
Loker connected on a 31-yard attempt with less than three minutes remaining in the game but an illegal chop block penalty against the Cardinals nullified the kick. Loker’s attempt from 46 yards was wide left.
On the ensuing drive, St. James faced fourth-and-10 from the EDW 24 with 55 seconds left in regulation. Mahler, and eighth grader, was brought in to attempt a 41-yard field goal attempt. His try came up just below the crossbar, leading to overtime.