Gators stymie Higgins in sloppy home victory

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant running back Nathan Taylor ran for 93 yards and a score in the Gators' win over Higgins. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

The field was sloppy at "The Pit" on Friday night, and so was the performance of St. Amant and L.W. Higgins.

The Gators were able to persevere through a penalty fest and mistake-filled contest to pull out a 36-13 victory.

"Last week, I thought it was execution. Tonight, I thought it was discipline," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. "We were sloppy, we had tons of penalties, and I didn't dispute many of them. We just weren't crisp at all, and we're going to have to address that as a coaching staff and as a team this upcoming week."

The game mirrored the Gators' game-one victory over Live Oak.

They jumped out to a huge 29-0 lead in the first half, but second-half mental lapses and turnovers allowed Higgins to get back in the contest as they cut the deficit to 29-13.

Finally, a late Hayden Mallory touchdown pass put the game away at the end of the third quarter.

The Gators' hot start began midway through the first quarter when they capped off a five-play, 54-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown connection from Mallory to Briggs Bourgeois.

Leading 7-0, St. Amant moved the ball again on their next drive as they scored after six plays.

Again, Mallory hit Bourgeois for a 15-yard score. He connected with Bourgeois again on the ensuing two-point try to give the Gators a 15-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

To start the second, St. Amant marched 69 yards in just five plays. Mallory finished things off with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Cheatwood.

After the Gator defense forced Higgins to turn the ball over on downs, the offense went right back on the attack.

They quickly spanned 72 yards on seven plays and went into the half with a 29-0 lead on the strength of a six-yard touchdown run by Nathan Taylor.

The proficiency of the Gator attack subsided in the second half as Mallory was picked off at the St. Amant 23-yard line. It allowed Higgins quarterback Daniel White to come up with a touchdown toss to cut the lead to 29-7.

The Hurricanes scored again on their next drive as White hit Travis Broussard for an 18-yard score to cut the deficit to 29-13 late in the third.

St. Amant finally woke up offensively on the final play of the third when Mallory went play-action and hit a wide open Larson Fontenot for a 64-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 36-13.

Cody Simmons and the Gator defense then put the finishing touches on the win. Simmons had three fourth-quarter interceptions.

"I thought Cody Simmons did a good job; he had three of the interceptions. I thought our pass rush was good," Oliver said. "Their quarterback was a mobile guy, and he ran around and kept plays alive, so that's a tough situation for a defense to be in, but I think out defense responded and played a really good game. They really only gave up one score of a significant distance."

St. Amant held Higgins to just 235 total yards. White was only able to compete 13 of 37 passes for 172 yards, and he was picked off four times.

Despite the array of penalties, the Gator offense was still able to roll up 439 total yards.

Mallory had a huge game as he went 18-36 for 357 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

He spread the ball around with three receivers having at least 79 yards.

Bourgeois led the way with seven grabs for 122 yards and two scores. Cheatwood had five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, and Fontenot had 79 yards and a score.

Taylor was able to help the Gators maintain balance as he carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards and a touchdown.