Palelei and East Ascension bounce back

Kyle Riviere
Sione Palelei busted the game wide open with his 108 yards rushing, 74 yards receiving and five total touchdowns.

East Ascension quickly put last week's heart-breaking loss to Denham Springs aside as they rolled over 4-1 McKinley 35-19 on the road.

Fittingly, Sione Palelei led the way for the Spartans with five touchdowns--three coming on the ground and two others coming through the air. Palelei was the player at the end of a very controversial fumble call last week that ended East Ascension's last gasp to tie the game with Denham Springs.

However, he showed a short memory Friday night as he shredded the McKinley defense early and often to the tune of 108 yards rushing and 74 yards receiving.

Things didn't look so rosy early though. There looked to be a hangover from the agony of last week's defeat as the Panthers jumped on top 7-0. The touchdown came in the form of a 66-yard pass from Jarred Adams to Brandon Butler on McKinley's second offensive play of the game.

Facing the deficit and a fourth down, the Spartans finally got a jolt of energy with a fake punt. Devin Speligene took the Panthers by surprise as he turned a sure East Ascension punt into a 30-yard first-down run.

The breathe of new life led to a eight-yard touchdown run by Palelei to tie the game. And on the Spartans' next drive, Palelei broke loose for a 53-yard score to give East Ascension their first lead at 14-7 heading into the second quarter.

Palelei continued to wreak havoc on the Panther defense as he scored from three yards out. And on the Spartans' next drive, Layne Trahan connected with him, and Palelei did the rest. He ran through the McKinley defense for a 43-yard touchdown to give East Ascension a commanding 28-7 halftime lead.

There was no quit in the Panthers though. They trimmed into the large deficit on their opening drive of the second half. Adams hooked up with Butler once again for a McKinley score that cut the lead to 28-13. Butler was huge all night--snagging eight catches for 141 yards and two scores.

The Spartans kept coming up with answers. Michael Sparrow--who returned a kick for a touchdown last week--busted the ensuring kickoff for 78 yards until finally being brought down at the Panther 13-yard line.

Shortly afterward, Trahan hit Palelei for another score to put East Ascension up 35-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

McKinley eventually added another score late, but the game had already long been decided.

The Spartans locked away the huge win to open the district season and put them back at .500. It could end up being just as big of a game mentally as they were finally able to get back on the winning track after two consecutive razor-thin losses to Madeville and Denham Springs.

They will be at home this week against district and parish rival Dutchtown, the sixth-ranked team in the state and a team that beat them 17-6 in their Aug. 24 jamboree.

However, the Spartans will be heading into this one with a hot running back. In the last two weeks, Palelei has rushed for 259 combined yards with five rushing touchdowns and two other receiving scores.