Sterlington scores late to edge Union Parish, 26-24, for Class 3A title

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NEW ORLEANS – District rivals clashed for Class 3A crown at the Caesars Superdome. Even more rare than that was that the game’s most outstanding player award went to a kicker.

Jacob Green drilled field goals from 46 and 40 yards out to help lift his Sterlington Panthers to a dramatic 26-24 victory over District 2-3A rival Union Parish, 28-26.

J’Keldric Miller, who had 14 rushes for 106 yards, dashed into the end zone for a 21 yards score with just 1:07 to play giving the Panthers the lead.

Union Parish’s final possession involved controversy when a big completion was overturned deep in Panthers territory.

A last second heave fell incomplete to ignite the Sterlington celebration of the school’s second state title and first since 2016.

“We’re a running team,” said Union Parish head coach Gerald Spatafora. “We’re not a two-minute offense and that sorta put us in a bind at the end.”

The Farmers ran for 233 yards on the night.

Sterlington (15-0) was taken to the brink by a familiar foe.

“This is about so much more than our team,” Sterlington head coach Lee Doty said. “It’s about community, it’s about the love we have for each other, and that’s the foundation. This team is built off of love.”

Union Parish (11-4) had to settle for back-to-back 3A runner-up trophies but this one was a much closer contest than last year’s 50-0 loss to Madison Prep in Natchitoches.

“Really proud of these young men and what they did to get here back-to-back years, but we came up short today,” Spatafora added. “But that’s part of it sometimes, It’s bittersweet to be here but it’s a bad feeling.”

Sterlington scored first on a 26-yard keeper from junior signal caller Mason Lawhon.

Union Parish responded with a 15-play, 70-yard drive that took 6:58 drive, capped off with a Ja’quarious Donald two-yard score. After a 2pt conversion, the Farmers had a 8-7 advantage after one quarter.

Donald finished with 13 rushes for 52 yards.

Sterlington recaptured the lead on Green’s 40-yard field goal, but it was short lived.

Treyvion Holly’s 66-yard touchdown grab put the Farmers back in front on the next play from scrimmage.

Green added his second field goal in the third period to pull the Panthers to within three, and a big defensive stand in the fourth quarter was followed by a touchdown run by Bryce Lark to give Sterlington a 20-16 lead. Lark had 18 carries for 87 yards.

Dison hit Holly deep for a 75-yard score as the highly-touted junior posted 24 rushes totaling 183 yards and one score plus two catches for 83 and another touchdown. He also completed 2-of-3 for 13 yards in the wildcat formation.

“Holly is an excellent football player, and that’s why he’s got all those offers we wanted to make sure he wasn’t gonna beat us on the last play,” Doty said.

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