Replay: De La Salle holds off late St. James rally, 21-19
VACHERIE – The De La Salle Cavaliers withstood a furious fourth quarter rally by the St. James Wildcats in the final 2:45, escaping Wildcat Stadium with a 21-19 victory to move to 3-0 in District 10-3A play.
Trailing 21-6 with 2:45 to play in the game, St. James faced the prospect of taking over deep in their own territory following a De La Salle punt, with limited time remaining and a two score deficit to overcome. However, the snap to Cavaliers’ punter Tyler Mitchell sailed over his head and recovered by A’rum Joseph for the Wildcats at the De La Salle 25-yard line.
After struggling to find offensive success for over three quarters, St. James wasted no time capitalizing on the opportunity. Senior Quarterback Shamar Smith quickly led his team to the end zone in just 4 plays, finding Tyshone Williams in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass to bring the game within one possession at 21-13 with 1:17 to play in the 4th Quarter.
Needing an onside kick recovery to have a chance to tie the game, the magic continued for St. James as Freshman Kicker Alec Mahler’s onside kick bounced off of De La Salle lineman Kyle Volpi, hit the ground and was recovered by St. James Linebacker Lamon Lewis, giving the Wildcats the ball at the Cavaliers’ 38-yard line.
Smith’s star ability rose to the occasion when his team needed him the most. Smith connected with Sean Lebeouf for 17 yards on first down, getting the ball inside the redzone to the De La Salle 18-yard line. Three plays later, Smith found Shazz Preston for 13 more yards, setting up first and goal at the De La Salle 5-yard line with :34 to play in the 4th Quarter. On the next play, again Smith dropped back to pass, but quickly scrambled to the far side of the field, evading pressure and hurdling into the corner of the end zone from five yards out,.
With the score 21-19 with :15 to play, the rally would come up short. On the two point conversion try, Smith’s pass to Logan Gravois was too far in front of him and fell in completed. De La Salle recovered the second St. James onside kick moments later, stopping the rally and securing the win.
De La Salle (5-2, 3-0) took the lead on the opening possession of the game and never relinquished it despite the late drama. Starting at their own 20, the Cavaliers marched down the field 80 yards, scoring on a 16-yard run by Kendell Collins, Jr. to grab a 7-0 lead at the 7:23 mark in the 1st Quarter.
After both teams traded possessions several times, St. James (5-3, 2-1) finally broke through to answer with a score of their own. With first and ten at their own 40-yard line, Smith went deep over the middle and connected with a wide open Gravois for a 60 yard touchdown with 6:26 to play in the first half. Mahler’s extra point would sail wide left, leaving De La Salle with a 7-6 lead.
De La Salle would stretch their lead just before halftime. With St. James driving into the Cavaliers’ territory, the defense knocked the ball out of Smith’s right into the arms of De La Salle defensive lineman Nathan Penn, who brought it back all the way to the Wildcats’ 35-yard line. Two plays later, Collins, Jr. would juke a defender and run it in from 33 yards out to extend the De La Salle lead 14-6 with 1:03 to play in the half.
The Cavaliers would extend the lead in the third quarter on yet another St. James turnover. Tyler Mitchell’s punt bounced of Lamon Lewis as he prepared to set up a block, and Nakia Ealy would fall on it to give De La Salle first down at the St. James 41-yard line. The very next play, Collins, Jr. would break free for his third touchdown of the night, running it in from 41 yards out to extend the De La Salle lead to 21-6 with 5:13 to play in the 3rd Quarter.
For the game, Collins, Jr. led all rushers with 20 carries for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns for De La Salle. Montrell Johnson additionally contributed 73 yards on 17 carries to add to the rushing attack in the backfield.
For St. James, Smith finished 15 of 29 passing for 219 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. On the ground, Smith led the Wildcats with 16 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. Lebeouf also provided dual contribution, gaining 41 yards on 11 carries along with another 75 yards on 7 catches to lead all receivers.
Next week, St. James will look to get back on track with another District 10-3A matchup Friday night against Lusher Charter.
De La Salle will secure the district championship as they host St. Charles Catholic at Yulman Stadium in a game that will be broadcast on CST and live-streamed at crescentcitysports.com.
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