St. Amant defense shines in second-round win

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Khaj Washington. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Back in August, The Pit was a pit of despair as it was drenched in three feet of flood water.

Three months later, it was simply paradise for the St. Amant faithful as the Gators defeated No. 10 Barbe to punch their ticket to the state quarterfinals.

The victory wasn’t the kind St. Amant had grown accustomed to during the regular season when they averaged 45 points per game.

The Gators were forced to grind one out, winning by just a 16-6 margin. The 16 points were the fewest scored by St. Amant during the entire season.

It was their defense that was the story of this game. In the fourth quarter, they picked Barbe off three times—returning one for a touchdown. They also turned the Buccaneers over on downs.

Though, the Gator offense did get off to a great start.

On their opening possession, St. Amant moved the ball downfield and took the opening lead when Hayden Mallory connected with Briggs Bourgeois for a 10-yard touchdown. When the 2-point try failed, they led 6-0.

Everything was going the Gators’ way, but the turnover bug reared its ugly head for the second straight week.

In St. Amant’s 38-24 first-round victory over Slidell, the Gators fumbled inside their opponent’s 5-yard line on two separate occasions. It happened again on Friday night.

Cade Nelson fumbled the ball at the goal line. The Buccaneers were able to recover the loose ball in their end zone and dodge the huge bullet.

Still up 6-0 in the second quarter, St. Amant special teams produced a 50-yard punt return that put them in Barbe territory, but once again, the Gators were unable to get into the end zone.

Bourgeois was forced to kick a 25-yard field to put his team up 9-0.

It appeared they would take that lead into the half, but Devon Pauley came through with a 43-yard catch that gave the Buccaneers a first down at the Gator 5-yard with 11 seconds remaining.

On the very next play, Kirkland Banks ran in the five-yard score, but the ensuing extra point was blocked.

St. Amant led, 9-6, at the half.

That lead carried over into the fourth quarter when the Buccaneer offense got something going.

They moved the ball deep into Gator territory, but the St. Amant defense came up with a huge stop on fourth-and-three, turning Barbe over on downs.

The Buccaneers had another opportunity to take the lead late as they drove inside the Gator 20.

This time, Khaj Washington picked off a pass and returned it 90 yards for a St. Amant touchdown to put them up 16-6 with just 3:57 remaining.

To end the game, the Gator defense came up with two more interceptions—one coming from Ben Parker and another coming from Patrick Wolfe.

Barbe did a tremendous job of containing the Gator passing attack. Mallory was held to just 102 yards and a touchdown on a 9-20 effort.

Nelson was St. Amant’s best weapon as he piled up 108 yards on just 12 carries.

The victory was the 11th of the season for St. Amant.

Now, they’ll face their greatest challenge of the season. For their quarterfinal matchup, they’ll make the long trip to North Louisiana to face perennial power West Monroe.

The second-seeded Rebels went 9-1-1 during the regular season and won their first two playoff games by a combined margin of 109-35.