Just out of grasp

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Kirk Elisar tries to elude a shoe-string tackle by East Ascension's Vance Grayson in the Gators' 15-10 win Friday night.

It's heart-breaking any time you lose to your archrival but the way East Ascension lost to St. Amant on Friday night, it was pure emotional torture.

Trailing the Gators 15-10 with less than a minute to go, the Spartans were just three yards away from victory.

However, after the St. Amant defense stood tall and forced a huge sack, the final seconds ticked away for East Ascension.

As one sideline jumped around in pure euphoria and triumph, the other could only walk away in a trance of demoralization and tears.

"There hasn't been any season in my 25 years of coaching like this," East Ascension head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "It's got to be torture on those kids. It just bothers me about what took place, and I don't think there is a finger that can be pointed at anyone on our team. It's just the way it fell."

While Bourgeois and his Spartans were forced to taste yet another bitter defeat, St. Amant celebrated—no one more than their defensive unit that made the huge stand to clinch the game.

"We've been leaning on our defense all year, and they came up huge for us tonight when we needed them the most," Gator head coach David Oliver said.

After a 35-yard Adam Bosworth field goal, East Ascension took a 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Layne Trahan then caught the hot hand and hooked up with the big tight end Devin Speligene for 25 and 16-yard connections.

With their versatile tailback Sione Palelei inactive with an injury, T.J. Miles and Michael Sparrow stepped up.

Miles broke a tackle, took it to the sideline and dove into the end zone for a 14-yard Spartan touchdown to extend the lead to 10-0.

It was then that the Gator offense finally woke up. They got the ball and drove right downfield and cut the lead to 10-6 when Cody Raffray powered through for a one-yard touchdown run.

On East Ascension's ensuing possession, Trahan overthrew his intended receiver, and Alex Derouselle was right there to pick it off and return it all the way to the Spartan 10-yard line.

Shortly afterward, Kirk Elisar took a snap as quarterback and knifed his way up the middle for a seven-yard touchdown to give the Gators a 13-10 halftime lead.

Both defenses dominated the second half with the only points coming off of a safety.

East Ascension's Tyler Briley caught a punt at the 5-yard line and tried to avoid defenders. He ended up running backward and was tackled in the end zone to extend the St. Amant lead to 15-10.

The Spartans were down to their final chance when they took the ball over at their own 23-yard line with 1:55 remaining.

They quickly went to work as Trahan threw a perfect over-the-shoulder pass to Speligene. He was finally brought down at the Gator 13-yard line after a 60-yard connection.

A 10-yard run by Sparrow set East Ascension up with first and goal at the St. Amant 3-yard line.

With less than a minute left and no time outs, the Spartans were forced to hurry.

Sparrow was stuffed for no gain on first down. On second down, Trahan hit Sparrow on a swing pass, but he was brought down for a loss of four.

With the clock running low, East Ascension rushed back to the line. Trahan went back to pass but was sacked by Nathan Martinez.

With the final seconds going off of the clock and in a moment of pure chaos, Trahan spiked the ball, but there was no time left and even if there was, it was fourth down.

The Gators celebrated as they moved to 7-2 heading into the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"It's huge. It think it might have secured homefield advantage," Oliver said. "We'll find out when all of that shakes out on Sunday, but it definitely gives us momentum going in."

It didn't give St. Amant home field, but they won't have to travel far. They will have a rematch at Dutchtown for the first round Friday night. They lost to the Griffins earlier this season 31-17.

As for East Ascension, their season comes to a disappointing end as they finish 4-6.

The Spartans did everything right but win Friday night. They held Trey Washington to just 47 yards and outgained the Gators 307-193.

However, they fell short in heart-breaking fashion just like they had three other times this year against Madeville, Denham Springs and Dutchtown.

"Losing games like that is no fun for anybody," Bourgeois said. "To fight hard like that and not see any wins come out of it through so many games, it's tough. Hopefully, we'll take it the right way and allow it to toughen us up going into the summer."