Gators erase deficits twice, fall to Woodlawn in 2OT

Aaron Looney
St. Amant quarterback Jaylin LeBlanc eludes Woodlawn’s Daniel Stewart on a run during the second quarter of Friday’s game at Panther Stadium. LeBlanc rushed for only eight net yards, but threw for 133 yards in the Gator’s 52-45 double overtime loss.

BATON ROUGE – After overcoming deficits of 17 and 21 points in regulation, the St. Amant Gators came up short in extended play  Friday night, falling to Woodlawn 52-45 in a two-overtime thriller at  Panther Stadium.

“It was a tough one,” St. Amant head coach David Oliver said.  “Exciting game, but we felt like it shouldn’t have been that  close. Our guys battled back and played their hearts out.”

The loss dropped St. Amant to an 0-4 mark heading into District 6-5A  play next week at East St. John. The Wildcats (1-2) blanked Carencro Friday, 28-0.

Woodlawn, who won its first game of the season and moved to 1-2 on  the year, will travel to play District 4-5A rival Central Friday.

With the game tied at 38-38 at the end of regulation, St. Amant began the first overtime period on offense. After reacing the 2-yard line on three plays, St. Amant’s Adrian Bourgeois punched through the Woodlawn defense for a touchdown. Colby Robert’s successful PAT kick put the Gators ahead, 45-38.

Woodlawn answered on its overtime possession when Antoine Weatherspoon caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Panther quarterback  Sterling Perryman, who also kicked the extra point to knot the game again at 45-45.

The Panters scored on their possesion in the second overtime, when Tyler Rodgers caught a Perryman pass in the end zone. With Perryman’s extra-point kick, the Panters took control with a 52-45 lead.

St. Amant’s offense gained no ground on its first three plays on offense in the second extra frame, with two runs for no gain and an incomplete pass. On fourth down, a scrambling LeBlanc tossed toward the end zone, but the ball fell short to end the contest.

The Gators finshed with 445 yards of total offense on the night, while Woodlawn complied 249 yards on offense.

St. Amant rushed the ball 56 times for 312 net yards. Tre’ Vaughn led the Gator rushers with 145 yards on 10 carries, followed closely by Bourgeois with 141 yards on 18 totes. Both Vaughn and 

Bourgeois scored two touchdowns on the night. LeBlanc finished with only eight net yards on the night, but scored a rushing touchdown for St. Amant.

LeBlanc completed eight of his 13 pass attempts on the night for 133 yards and one rushing touchdown, while being sacked foru times by the Woodlawn defense.

Anthony Bonadona Jr. led the Gators recieviers with 59 yards on three  catches and one touchdown. Vaughn caught three passes out of the  backfield for 40 yards, while Chase Keller caught a pair of passes for 34 yards.

Fumbles plauged the Gators in the first half, with St. Amant losing the ball six times, three of which went over to Woodlawn. The Gators were also penalized seven times for 140 yards.

The Gators also controlled the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 30:34 to Woodlawn’s 17:26 in regulation.

For the Panthers, Jeremiah Leonard led the way on the ground with 121 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. Weatherspoon ran for 30 yards on seven carries.

Perryman had a 7-for-14 day through the air for Woodlawn for 95 yards and three touchdowns. The St. Amant defense sacked Perryman once on the night.

Warren Craft hauled in three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown to lead the Woodlawn receiver corps. Rogers caught three passes for 27 yards and a score, while Weatherspoon caught one pass, a 10-yard touchdown grab in overtime.

Woodlawn head coach Don Jones said he felt his team took control initially with strong defensive play, but could not contain the Gator offense in the second half.

“We had a three-touchdown lead and let them get back in it,” Jones said. “They’re a very explosive team with a very mobile quarterback in the option scheme. I’m disappointed with how our defense played in the second half and allowed them (St. Amant) to get back into the game. They’re a good ballclub that will give teams fits this season.”

After being stopped on a fourth-down run attempt near midfield to open the game, St. Amant forced Woodlawn to punt on its opening possession. Taking over at their own 7 yard line, LeBlanc lost the ball after the snap. After the ball rolled into the end zone, Woodlawn’s Jarrett Hardnett fell on the loose ball for a Panther touchdown. Perryman added the extra-point kick to give Woodlawn the early 7-0 lead with just under seven minutes left in the quarter.

On their next possession, Woodlawn reached the St. Amant 9 before Garon Berry sacked Perryman back at the Gator 22. The loss left Woodlawn to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Perryman, upping the Woodlawn lead to 10-0 with 2:38 remaining in the quarter.

St. Amant would again turn the ball over on a fumble during its next  possesion, when LeBlanc lost his grip on the ball near midfield. Jordell McCoy recovered and fled toward the end zone for the touchdown. Perryman toed in the extra point to put St. Amant in a 17-0 hole just before the end of the first quarter.

The Gators put their first notch on the scoreboard as the second quarter began. Driving from their own 36, St. Amant pushed all the way to the Panther 12 before LeBlanc kept the ball on an option run  and found the end zone. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving St. Amant down 17-6 with just over nine minutes left in the half.

The Gators got the ball back quickly on a Wayne Douglas interception returned to the Panther 7. However an illegal formation penalty brought the ball all the way back to the St. Amant 12. The Gators quickly made their way back down field, thanks to a 74-yard run by Bourgeois to the Woodlawn 14. Two plays later, LeBlanc eached the Panther 7 before Robert came on and put a 25-yard field goal attempt through the uprights, cutting Woodlawn’s lead to 17-9.

St. Amant again came up with an interception later in the quarter. This time, Shannon Lucas picked off Perryman at midfleld, but a personal foul after the pick pushed St. Amant back to their 30-yard line for a drive that ultimately ended with a punt just before halftime.

On their first possession of the second half, the Gators tied the ballgame at 17-17. Starting from the Gator 40, two short gains preceded a 52-yard touchdown run by Vaughn and a PAT kick by Robert.

The tie was shortlived, however, as McCoy took the ensuing kick and brought it back 89 yards for a touchdown. Perryman’s successful kick extended Woodlawn’s lead to 24-17.

Woodlawn added another touchdown on its next possession on a 36-yard pass connection from Perryman to Craft. The successful PAT kick put Woodlawn ahead 31-17 with just over five minutes left in the quarter.

As the fourth quarter opened, St. Amant turned the ball over on a Vaughn fumble at the Gator 18. Woodlawn capitalized with a Leonard touchdown run on the next play which, along with the extra point, extended the Panther lead to 38-17.

St. Amant answered with a touchdown on their next drive when Vaughn broke loose of the Panther defense on a 67-yard touchdown haul. With the extra point, St. Amant cut the deficit down to 14 points at 38-24 with nine minutes left in regulation.

After forcing Woodlawn to punt, St. Amant took over on its side at midfield. The Gator offense used short-yardage runs and a 32-yard scamper by LeBlanc to reach the Panther 2. A Woodlawn penalty moved the ball to the 1-yard line, where Bourgeois then crossed the goal line on a short run. Robert’s successful kick closed the gap to seven points, 38-31.

The Gators again forced Woodlawn to punt, taking over at their own 32. After five running plays brought the St. Amant to the Panther 45, a 17-yard completion to Chase Keller moved the ball to the Woodlawn 28 before LeBlanc connected with Bonadona in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown. Robert’s extra point tied the game again, this time at 38-all, with a little more than 30 seconds remaining.

Woodlawn moved from their own 30 to the St. Amant 17, thanks in part to a 16-yard face mask penalty on the Gators. With time running down, Perryman attempted a 35-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright, sending the game into overtime.

“Woodlawn’s a very explosive team,” Oliver said. “They’re a heavy passing offense, but they’re also very quick on defense and returns. That kick return for a touchdown hurt us. Our guys had some trouble defending on returns. It’s hard to win when you make mistakes like that, but we battled back and made our own opportunities. We just made a few too many mistakes.”

Oliver said he stressed at halftime the importance of protecting the ball, especially after numerous fumbles in the first half.

“We talked about how we gave them (Woodlawn) a lot of  opportunities,” Oliver said. “If we could eliminate that, we’d be successful. We cut down on them for the most part, but that’s definitely something we need to work on and improve upon heading into district play. I think that if we focus on the things we need to fix and keep improving on the things we’re doing well, we’ll continue 

to grow and get better each week.”