Mathew Lagrange catches three TDs, including the game-winner, as St. Thomas More gets past Plaquemine in 35-34 thriller _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- STM's William Bellamy (15) looks for a reciever ahead of pressure from Plaquemine defender Brian Jordan (14) on Friday at STN.

St. Thomas More has displayed the ability to play from ahead and win convincingly.

The Cougars also showed characteristics of a championship-caliber team, being able to deal with adversity and still persevere — traits that will serve them well in a competitive District 4-4A race and into the postseason.

A week after a 30-point victory over El Dorado, Arkansas, in the Battle on the Border in Shreveport, St. Thomas had to dig deep, overcoming a pair of fumbles and a blocked field goal that went for a touchdown to turn back determined Plaquemine 35-34.

STM tied the score at 34 with a 19-yard TD pass from quarterback William Bellamy to Matthew LaGrange with three seconds remaining. Place-kicker Bailey Raborn, a UCLA commitment, provided the difference with an extra point.

“Last week was tough and Plaquemine had a lot to do with it,” STM coach Jim Hightower said. “They were very athletic, disciplined and well coached. They had a great game plan, got a few bounces early that kind of put us behind the eight ball and allowed them to stay with what they wanted to do.”

STM’s ability to remain perfect helped the Cougars (3-0) move one spot to No. 2 in the latest Class 4A rankings that were released Tuesday by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.

While Neville (3-0) remained No. 1 and received all 11 first-place votes in the 4A rankings STM took advantage of the loss by former No. 2 Teurlings Catholic (2-1), picking up 115 points to outdistance No. 3 McDonogh 35 (3-0) 115-97.

The Rebels dropped to No. 5 following their 28-23 loss to Notre Dame of Crowley, while Carencro (3-0) moved up three spots to No. 6 with a 24-21 win over Class 5A’s then-No. 10 Acadiana.

By virtue of Carencro’s win, coupled with North DeSoto’s 42-40 victory over Class 2A No. 1 Many, Crowley (3-0) slipped to No. 8 despite its 50-49 win over Cecilia.

Notre Dame (3-0) saw its ranking spike three spots to No. 2 in Class 2A behind top-ranked Sterlington (3-0).

Fourth-ranked Vermilion Catholic (2-1) continues to lead the District 7-1A parade in the Class 1A polls, followed by No. 5 Ascension Episcopal (3-0) and No. 7 Central Catholic-Morgan City (3-0).

STM’s steady climb up the 4A poll mirrors its methodical approach to the season, defeating Sulphur (31-13) and El Dorado before hosting Plaquemine.

STM had a blocked field goal returned for a score, and while leading 14-6 and driving in Plaquemine’s territory, lost a fumble that contributed to another TD and left the Cougars with a 14-12 lead at half.

STM twice trailed in the second half — 20-14 and 34-28 — before Bellamy, who was 17 of 27 for 258 yards, drove the Cougars 65 yards for the game-winning score. LaGrange had four catches for 71 yards and three TDs.

“It was a tough game,” Hightower said. “They were good and we had to keep battling. We know our kids are going to compete down to the final seconds.”

LSWA Prep Football Polls

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Class 5A

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Team (#1 votes) Rec. Pts. Pvs.

1. Rummel (8) 3-0 127 1

2. West Monroe (2) 3-0 118 2

3. John Curtis 3-0 105 3

4. Zachary 3-0 92 4

5. Brother Martin 3-0 79 5

6. Ponchatoula 3-0 76 6

7. Byrd (1) 3-0 65 9

8. Parkway 3-0 63 7

9. Destrehan 3-0 53 8

10. Airline 3-0 36 NR

Others receiving votes: Jesuit 13, St. Paul’s 10, Landry-Walker 7, Acadiana 4, Evangel 4, Ouachita 4, Scotlandville 4, St. Amant 3, John Ehret 1.

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Class 4A

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Team (#1 votes) Rec. Pts. Pvs.

1. Neville (11) 3-0 132 1

2. St. Thomas More 3-0 115 3

3. McDonogh 35 3-0 97 4

4. Franklinton 2-1 88 5

5. Teurlings 2-1 76 2

6. Carencro 3-0 72 9

7. North DeSoto 3-0 67 7

8. Crowley 3-0 60 6

9. Bastrop 2-1 43 10

10. Warren Easton 2-1 40 8

Others receiving votes: Livonia 21, LaGrange 19, Minden 13, Plaquemine 7, Breaux Bridge 6, Benton 2.

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Class 3A

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Team (#1 votes) Rec. Pts. Pvs.

1. University (9) 2-1 125 2

2. Amite (1) 2-1 118 5

3. North Webster 2-1 104 1

4. De La Salle (1) 3-0 103 7

5. Parkview Bapt. 1-2 79 3

6. S. Beauregard 3-0 77 10

7. Lutcher 2-1 54 6

8. Union Parish 2-1 53 4

9. Church Point 3-0 51 NR

10. Eunice 3-0 26 NR

Others receiving votes: Jennings 22, E.D. White 16, Peabody 13, Kaplan 5, Patterson 5, St. James 4, Brusly 3.

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Class 2A

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Team (#1 votes) Rec. Pts. Pvs.

1. Sterlington (7) 3-0 124 2

2. Notre Dame (1) 3-0 114 5

3. Ouachita Chr. (1) 3-0 98 4

4. Many (2) 2-1 93 1

5. Riverside 2-1 80 6

6. St. Charles 3-0 74 7

7. Calvary Bapt. 1-2 72 3

8. St.Thomas Aquinas 3-0 65 8

9. Kinder 2-1 48 9

10. Pickering 3-0 43 10

Others receiving votes: Madison Prep 23, Mangham 10, Menard 7, Country Day 3, Welsh 3, Catholic-New Iberia 2, Dunham 1.

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Class 1A

RightAlign.86RightAlign.124RightAlign.151Team (#1 votes) Rec. Pts. Pvs.

1. St. Mary’s (9) 3-0 130 2

2. Southern Lab (1) 2-1 125 3

3. Kentwood 2-1 104 1

4. Vermilion Cath. 2-1 96 4

5. Ascension Epis. (1) 3-0 91 5

6. Haynesville 1-2 74 6

7. Central Catholic 3-0 66 7

8. Basile 3-0 59 8

9. Hamilton Christian 2-1 57 9

10. E. Beauregard 2-1 35 NR

Othere receiving votes: Cedar Creek 13, White Castle 12, Covenant Christian 7, St. Frederick 3, Elton 2, Grambling 1.