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St. James scores with eight seconds left to top Lutcher 29-26

  • Tags:
  • Game Recap
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • September 07, 2018 - 10:58pm

Lutcher's Rondell Mealey (7) rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort as the Bulldogs lost to visiting rival St. James 27-26 on Friday night.


Tyshone Williams proved the old football adage that you, “play the way you practice.”

With St. James trailing the rival Bulldogs 26-21 and only seconds remaining in the game, Williams was the go-to guy on a comeback route, making a sliding catch just past the front, left pylon from 5 yards out to rally the Wildcats to a 29-26 triumph Friday night in Lutcher.

“I think Coach (Robert Valdez) put me out there because he believed in me. I’m the best one to do a comeback route at practice. I really needed to do that from them,” Williams said of his game-winning catch.

“The kid did a great job,” Valdez said of Williams. “He runs that route great in practice. We told him, ‘right now, this is what we are going to.’ They (the Bulldogs) were kind of stacking up the middle and we were running out of real estate. We couldn’t really throw anything except to the sideline to stop the clock. He made a spectacular catch. It was a spectacular throw. I think he (quarterback Shamar Smith) got protection and I think we sold the play.”

“When I saw (Williams) broke and the cornerback kept going, so I threw the touchdown,” Smith said.

Lutcher (0-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead before St. James (2-0) rallied back. The teams threw counter punches at each other the rest of the way, leading to another instant classic in the annals of the Lutcher-St. James rivalry.

“River Parish football – St. James, Lutcher – it’s another classic. I’m just so excited that we came out ahead in this one,” Valdez said.

“I think it’s two teams that played really hard. In the end, I thought their guys made the plays they needed to make. They moved the ball 80 yards in two minutes and got a chance to score - and they did,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said.

When Smith lost his third fumble of the night, Lutcher got the ball with 5:25 left in the game at the Bulldogs’ own 20-yard line following Rhett Whitney’s recovery. Looking to run time off the clock while clinging to a 26-21 lead, Lutcher eventually punted after advancing the ball to its own 45. That gave the ball to St. James at its own 19 with 2:12 left in the game.

After Dontaz Sterling failed to gain any yards on first down, Smith ran the ball twice and threw seven passes – completing six – in the 10-play drive. His game-winning toss to Williams came with eight seconds left in the game.

“I felt we had the momentum. I fumbled three times, but I believe in my receivers and o-line,” said Smith.

Lutcher needed six weeks to force its first turnover in 2017. The three the Bulldogs came up with against St. James came on the Lutcher side of the field.

While the turnovers were coming on the Lutcher side of the field, St. James punter Alec Mahler also kept the Bulldogs at bay by pinning the Bulldogs deep in their own territory.

“I thought the difference in game really was the Mahler kid did a great job of pinning us back,” Jenkins said. “The turnovers we did get were always in negative field position. It wasn’t like you were getting the ball in field position to take advantage. I thought we had a couple of big stops and Mahler flipped the field, especially on that last punt. You try to get some first downs to run out the clock and you get them to punt from about the minus-30 and we ended up starting, I think, on the 12 (actually the 7-yard line). We got a couple of penalties and you have to move it out of there.”

Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the Wildcats scored on their opening possession of the third quarter to narrow the gap. Sterling and Smith combined to handle the ball on all eight plays of the drive, culminating in a 28-yard touchdown run by Sterling to make it 20-14.

Facing fourth-and-2 from the St. James 44, the Bulldogs were stopped behind the line of scrimmage, turning the ball over on downs.

On third-and-4 from the Lutcher 20, Sterling broke several tackles and made a spin move on his way to his third touchdown of the game that gave St. James its first lead of the game at 21-20 with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter.

“The Wildcat offense – one person can’t bring me down. You have to put that in your head. If you don’t wrap me up, I’m not going down,” said Sterling, who finished with 99 yards rushing.

Lutcher answered on its next drive when Bulldogs quarterback Kolby Bourgeois, who passed for 188 yards, found Adrian Butler in the left corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving LHS with a 26-21 lead and setting the stage for the dramatic finish.

A 46-yard pass from Smith to Logan Gravois gave St. James a first-and-goal at the Lutcher 15 late in the first quarter. Smith, who rushed for 124 yards, suffered his first fumble of the game when the ball popped out of his hands, with Carter Poche recovering for the Bulldogs.

Lutcher struck first when Bourgeois hit a wide-open Rashon Williams over the middle and the fleet receiver outraced the St. James secondary into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bulldogs lead with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

Sean Lebeouf fumbled during his return of the ensuing kickoff, giving the ball right back to Lutcher.

Two plays later, Rondell Mealey, who rushed for 142 yards, ran wide left from 5-yards out for a touchdown. Two scores in the span of 24 seconds gave Lutcher a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

A pair of pass interference calls against Lutcher on a St. James drive two possessions after Mealey’s touchdown set up a Wildcats score.

The second penalty – this one in the end zone – gave St. James a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line.

Two plays later, Sterling, the Wildcat running back, lined up at quarterback in the wildcat formation. He scored from a yard out to pull St. James to within 14-7 with 2:03 remaining before halftime.

That was enough time for the Bulldogs to answer.

A 26-yard run by Mealey to the 1-yard line set up Mealey’s second touchdown from a yard out with 14.6 seconds remaining before halftime to give Lutcher a 20-7 lead at the break.

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.