St. Augustine rallies for signature win at Zachary, 24-20

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ZACHARY – The storied program at St. Augustine has won three state championships but the last came in 1979.

While the Purple Knights have come close several times since the last of legendary coach Otis Washington’s titles 43 years ago, they have fallen short of reaching another title game while searching for a signature win.

That signature win and perhaps the first step toward possibly reaching another title game came Friday night, on the road, in a hostile environment, against the best team in Louisiana.

Amare Cooper connected with Karaaz Johnson on a 43-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to lift St. Augustine to a thrilling 24-20 victory over defending Class 5A state champion Zachary.

The Broncos, who have won four 5A state titles since 2015, seemingly had control of the game, using big plays in the kicking game to take a 17-3 lead.

It was not enough to hold off a determined, talented St. Augustine team.

St. Augustine knew it could play with the Broncos after losing a 45-35 shootout in New Orleans in 2021, a game in which the Purple Knights moved the ball extremely well but were hurt in the kicking game.

Once again, the Broncos made big plays in the kicking game Friday night but St. Aug was able to overcome it.

This game was literally the tale of two halves as Zachary started the first half with two scoring drives 10 plays and 13 plays.

Cameron Stewart walked into the end zone untouched for the Broncos first score as it was 7-0 with 6;26 to play in the first quarter.

Kellon Conachen then connected on a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.

St Augustine finally started to move the ball late in the first half thanks to 51-yard pass from Amare Cooper to Devin Smith which led to a 30-yard field goal from Vashaun Coulon and it as 10-3.

Zachary’s Tylon Williams took the ensuing kickoff and raced 85 yards to paydirt to make it 17-3 at halftime.

The Purple Knights owned the second half, marching down the field on a 10 play and 11 play drive both ending in touchdowns to tie the game.

Cooper hooked up with Keith Hill for a 17-yard touchdown to close the gap to 17-10 with 8:32 to play in the third quarter.

The Purple Knights defense force the Broncos to a three-an -out and the offense then marched 96 yards in 11 plays, taking 3:43 off the clock with Moses Gray scoring to make it 17-17 with 2:17 to play in the third quarter.

Williams then struck again, returning the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to setup the Broncos only second half points, a 38 yard field goal by Conachen to give Zachary a 20-17.

That set the stage for the winning drive and score.

Zachary had a couple of chances but dropped a potential go-ahead touchdown pass.

“St. Aug played great in the second half, we had time after time in the first half to put the game away and we didn’t,” Zachary coach Dave Brewerton said. “That’s what happens against good teams. When you don’t do it, you get beat. What did we score, three points in the second half? You can’t win, can’t beat good teams like that.”\

“I’m so proud of my guy’s, this is a statement win,” St. Aug coach Nick Foster said. “We had to take it, they didn’t give it to us.” It’s a huge win for our program. It basically just makes a statement and makes people realize that St. Augustine football is back.”

The Purple Knights were able to knock for Holstein out of the game, twice. He did not return after the second hit he took and Hudson Spangler finished the game for Zachary.

“The D-line came through,” Foster said. “That’s the heart of our team. Eli is a tough kid. I’ve been watching that kid for the last two years basically beat us. We were able to put hits on him. There were over 7,000 people here in a hostile environment at Bronco Stadium. Our kids weren’t rattled. We were able to get over the hump.”

The win snapped a 17-game win streak for Zachary.

St. Augustine (3-0) opens District 9-5A play next Saturday against Karr in a showdown at Behrman Stadium next Saturday night.

Zachary (2-1) is off next week before playing at Winona (MS) on Sept. 30.

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