St. Amant downs EA in jamboree thriller

Kyle Riviere
East Ascension's Josh Walker is downed by a swarm of Gators--turning the Spartans away on a key fourth-and-goal attempt. Photo by Dewey Keller.

It doesn't matter when St. Amant and East Ascension clash on the gridiron, you can be sure it's going to be nail-biter. Friday night's LeBlanc's Jamboree was no exception.

The Gators used three huge defensive stands and a couple of big plays in the passing game to edge out their archrival 21-14.

Though their final drive to take the lead with just 12 seconds remaining was quite impressive, their defense set the tone in the first half. It was there that they made a goal-line stand and held the Spartans scoreless in three drives deep in their territory.

"Those goal-line stands are a great way to start the season," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. "We didn't play real well early--especially on offense. Our defense bowed up twice; we forced a fumble and got a stop on downs the second time. It's always great when you can stop them from scoring."

The two teams were forced to play at Dutchtown due to suspect playing conditions at The Pit. The field was still not playable after installing new grass over the summer.

East Ascension's revamped offense started off fast as they quickly drove inside the St. Amant 10-yard line. First-year starting quarterback Kyran Irvin did most of the damage--breaking loose on a 44-yard run.

However, he lost a fumble inside the Gator 5-yard line soon afterward.

The Spartans got another chance to score when they put together a 10-play drive.

It gave East Ascension a first-and-goal opportunity at the St. Amant 5-yard line but once again, the Gator defense came up big. They stopped the Spartans on four straight plays--forcing them to turn the ball over on downs.

"At times, we gave up too much defensively," East Ascension head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "And being an offensive coordinator, you've got to take advantage of being all the way down there--not only once but twice and not being able to punch it in."

East Ascension's last scoring opportunity of the first half came when they picked off Tyler Dixon at the St. Amant 35-yard line. One more time, the Gator defense stood tall and turned them over on downs.

On the very next play, Dixon hit Briggs Bourgeois on a quick slant, he split the safeties and sprinted to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown.

The big play right before the half didn't shellshock the Spartans. They quickly picked Dixon off for a second time on their opening drive of the second half.

East Ascension tied the game at 7 when Irvin lunged into the end zone from two yards out.

From there, the game went back and forth. St. Amant regained a seven-point lead when they drove 53 yards in five plays, and Richard Williams finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run.

But with just 2:26 left to play, Irvin calmly led his team on an 80-yard drive to tie the game.

The Spartans got the score when Josh Walker exploded up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown run on a beautifully-executed draw.

With just 51 seconds remaining, Dixon and the St Amant offense went to work.

After a big kickoff return by Marquise Hampton that was aided by a personal foul call against East Ascension, Dixon hit Bourgeois for 22 more yards.

On the very next play, Dixon hit Hampton in the corner of the end zone for a two-yard score with just 12 seconds remaining. It was enough to give the Gators the 21-14 win.

"I liked the way the team complimented each other. When the offense was struggling, the defense played well," Oliver said. "We just supported each other well the whole game. You could see a lot of the pieces coming together. We just have to continue to gel."

After throwing two early interceptions, Dixon responded well--completing nine of 17 passes for 174 yards and two scores. Bourgeois had three catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.

The young East Ascension offense seemed to settle down in the second half. They actually outgained St. Amant 266-212.

Irvin went 6-14 for 54 yards and piled up 105 yards on the ground with a score. Walker carried the ball six times for 66 yards and a touchdown.

"We had a little time to catch our breath, and we had a lot of new starters in there," Coach Bourgeois said. "Some of our coaches said that even our warm-ups weren't very smooth because they think the kids were nervous, so I think it took us a little while to settle down."

The win will just add more competitive fuel to the teams' regular-season meeting on Halloween.

"It's a jamboree, but people will watch EA and St. Amant kids play checkers together; there will be a crowd for it, so it did mean a little something, but we'll see them again in week nine, and it'll be a different story then," Oliver said.

The two teams will begin play this week with St. Amant hosting Warren Easton and East Ascension visiting Plaquemine.