Huge, momentum-shifting plays have dominated the East Ascension vs. St. Amant rivalry over the past five years, and Friday night was no exception.

Huge, momentum-shifting plays have dominated the East Ascension vs. St. Amant rivalry over the past five years, and Friday night was no exception.

Last year, it was a punt return touchdown by Jaqunn Mitchell that fueled the Spartans to a 20-13 win.

This time around, St. Amant was up 7-3 and they looked like they were on their way to adding another score when Jyren Ester came up with an interception and returned it 85 yards for a score to give East Ascension a 10-7 halftime lead.

And to start the third quarter, Cameron Jones hooked up with Hobert Grayson for a 71-yard touchdown to go up 17-7. The Spartans never looked back, rolling to a 34-7 victory.

"In a big rivalry game like this, big momentum swings are important," East Ascension head coach Darnell Lee said. "We got one right before the half. It really put us in great shape. They did a great job defensively in the first half. Our defense gave us opportunities and kept us in the game.

"Hobert Grayson had the explosive play right after the half. Getting a score to open the second half was a focal point for us. We've been struggling with that. When we got the momentum from the interception, we kept it going."

After a scoreless quarter and a half, the Spartans took a 3-0 lead with a 37-yard field goal by Alexander Phelps.

St. Amant responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Reggie Sims to give the Gators a 7-3 lead.

The Gators then began driving right before the half. Quarterback Cole Poirrier scrambled for 17 yards to give them a first down at the Spartan 33.

On the next play, Poirrier went to Javin Augillard at the East Ascension 15, but Augillard slipped. Ester was there to pick it off and take it 85 yards to give the Spartans a 10-7 halftime lead.

Just five plays into East Ascension's opening drive of the second half, Jones hit Grayson for the long score, and on St. Amant's next possession, Poirrier was sacked and stripped of the ball. The Spartans recovered at the Gator 5.

Two plays later, Jones hit Jyrin Johnson for a five-yard touchdown to make it 24-7.

In the fourth quarter, East Ascension added a 29-yard field goal and another five-yard Jones to Johnson touchdown connection.

The Spartans held St. Amant to just 121 total yards. Only three of those yards came on the ground.

"Our defensive front got after them tonight. I was proud of those guys," Lee said. "Mason Lewis is a sophomore, and he played big. We have eight of those guys coming back next year and eight on offense. So, to see them play the way they are, you can attribute that to the schedule we play. They're battle-tested. And any time you can get a win against one of our AP rivals, you gotta enjoy it."

Meanwhile, East Ascension piled up 347 total yards.

Jones had 151 yards passing and three scores, and he added 55 yards on the ground. Johnson had six catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

Ethan Bagwell led East Ascension with 73 yards rushing.

The Spartans finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak. They'll head into the playoffs with an 8-2 record.

"We needed this," Lee said. "I was nervous with the way our schedule fell--playing the two games we did before tonight. I felt like it could have been a trap coming into this. We didn't play well at all last week. McKinley played inspired, and it was tied at halftime.

"We stayed optimistic this week. We had good leadership, and we got the win. We've been saying all season long that everybody wants to play 15 games. We just feel like if we plant that seed early and water it every chance we get, we'll be that team to do it."