DONALDSONVILLE – St. James had its most productive half of the season.
Too bad for Wildcat fans, it came in the second half of the final week of the season after St. James trailed 38-0 at halftime. When it was all over, though, SJH fell to Donaldsonville 54-40 to end the year 0-10.
“Every time we asked them to play hard, they played hard,” St. James coach James Bell said of his team’s second-half effort.
The 0-10 mark is the worst finish for St. James since a 1-9 record in 1990. Records of the early years of St. James football are spotty, but the 0-10 record marked the first time in at least 60 years that SJH has failed to win at least one game in a season.
While St. James fell to 0-10 overall and 0-5 in District 7-3A play, Donaldsonville improved to 5-5 overall and 3-2 in league play to solidify its playoff positioning in a game regionally broadcast on Cox Sports Television.
Leading 38-0 at halftime, the Tigers seemed eager to take a rout of major proportions after scoring on their opening possession of the third quarter. A 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Devin Breaux to Cortez Mitchell and a two-point conversion gave Donaldsonville a 46-0 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
Breaux, a Tulane verbal commitment, rushed for 300 yards and passed for 226 while factoring in on six touchdowns, including three rushing and three passing.
“We put the ball in our best guy’s hands and say, ‘win the game for us.’ That’s what he did,” Donaldsonville coach Terence Williams said. “He’s a young man who has conditioned his body to do the things he is doing.”
After struggling with turnovers throughout the first half, the Wildcats came up with their most productive plays of the game on their possession of the second half. Larohn Cambre took the ball from quarterback Shaquille Narcisse and looked to throw a halfback pass. Instead, Cambre ran raced 34 yards down to the Tigers’ 6. Fullback Lester Verret scored on the next play, with a two-point conversion making the score 46-8.
Four plays following Narcisse’s interception of a Breaux pass, Narcisse in turn scrambled before finding Cambre on a 15-yard touchdown strike to make it 46-16.
Just as St. James was unable to contain Breaux throughout the game, the Tigers could not stop Narcisse and Cambre in the second half.
Cambre turned an inside screen pass from Narcisse into a 30-yard touchdown pass. With the Tigers pinned at their 3-yard line following the ensuing kickoff, Breaux was tackled in the end zone for a safety, making the score 46-26.
Two plays following the free kick, Narcisse threw an interception. The Tigers were guilty of roughing the passer, negating the turnover. Two plays later, Narcisse scored on a 2-yard sneak and the Wildcats rallied to within 46-34 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Narcisse finished the game 7 of 15 passing for 155 yards. That came after going 0 for 2 in the first half with an interception.
“We have a lot to look forward to for next year,” Bell said of his junior quarterback.
Cambre, meanwhile, rushed for 118 yards on nine carries, 99 of which came in the second half.
“He’s a playmaker. He will a good back for someone on the college level,” Bell said of Cambre.
Late in the fourth quarter, St. James reached the Donaldsonville 25 before Narcisse threw an interception. Four plays later, Breaux scored on a 13-yard run to make the score 54-34. It marked the fifth time in the game the Tigers turned a St. James turnover into a touchdown.
St. James added its final score of the season on a 20-yard run by Junius Champagne with 1:01 left in the game.
Donaldsonville turned turnovers by St. James on four-straight first-half possessions into touchdowns as the Tigers seemingly put the game away early.
“We played the type of football we are capable of playing in the first half,” Williams said. “One thing about us, we have to learn is to play championship football. We have to come out in the second half and close the door.”
“It’s that same old thing. We have to keep working. Turnovers (hurt) but injuries more than anything, I go back to that. That just killed us this year,” Bell said.
“This is really the first time we had everybody and then nobody got hurt. We had some get banged up but they came back,” Bell added.
The mistake-prone Wildcats turned the ball over on their second possession of the game. Percy Cargo’s sack of St. James quarterback D’kwan Sandolph led to the first turnover, giving Donaldsonville the ball at the SJH 38.
Donaldsonville needed only four plays to score, with the game’s first touchdown coming on a 6-yard pass from Breaux to Jaquel Grant for a 6-0 Tigers lead.
Hubert Wiggins fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Marquize Zeno recovering for Donaldsonville at the SJH 28. The Tigers made it 14-0 four plays later on a 15-yard keeper by Breaux and a two-point conversion pass to Mitchell.
St. James advanced to the Donaldsonville 43 on its next possession but on third-and-two, Sandolph fumbled a center exchange. A 34-yard touchdown strike from Breaux to Drew Rosemond made it 20-0 with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Narcisse replaced Sandolph at quarterback for the Wildcats and his first pass attempt was intercepted by Tre Brown in from the of the St. James bench at the SJH 45. Three plays into the second quarter, the score became 26-0 on an 8-yard run by Brown.
Donaldsonville’s offense showed it could score without the help of St. James turnovers. The Tigers traveled 70 yards, with Mitchell scoring on a reverse from 13 yards out to make it 32-0.
A 45-yard run by Breaux with 41 seconds left in the second quarter made it 38-0 at halftime. Breaux rushed for 120 yards in the first half and was 12 of 18 passing for 139 yards in the opening two quarters.