DONALDSONVILLE — Jaylin Williams last-second pass for Savon Landry was tipped out of the end zone allowing St. James to escape Donaldsonville with a 26-22 win at Floyd Boutte Stadium.
In a game that featured six lead changes, St. James (5-1, 1-0 District 10-3A) made the last one count. Shamar Smith found Dontaz Sterling on a wheel route for a 26-yard touchdown with 1:39 remaining. After the kickoff, Donaldsonville (5-1, 0-1) moved inside the St. James 20 before Williams’ pass fell incomplete.
“We’ve been playing four quarters every game this year,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said. “We had some starters out, but I just like the way these guys compete. They keep believing in what we’re doing.”
Donaldsonville quarterback Jaylin Williams completed 9 of 21 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. His 41-yard strike to Acquinas Levy put the Tigers on top 14-13 early in the third quarter.
Later, after Dylan Turner blocked a 35-yard field-goal attempt by St. James, Williams directed Donaldsonville on a 65-yard drive. Jamon Pleasant’s 5-yard scoring run, followed by his two-point run, gave the Tigers a 22-19 lead with 8:25 remaining.
It was too much time.
“St. James is great team. They’ve been on this stage many times, and the atmosphere was great,” Donaldsonville coach Brian Richardson said. “This is why we want to play them. I wanted my kids to have this crowd and to play in pressure situations. They handled it well.”
Smith led St. James with 62 yards rushing and a touchdown. He was 15 of 25 through the air for 201 yards, including the game-winner to Sterling.
St. James took a 13-8 lead at halftime, but it came with a bit of controversy.
Trailing 8-7, the Wildcats moved from their 38 to a first down at the DHS 12 with less than two minutes left in the half. On fourth-and-2, Tahj Brown appeared to pick up the first down. The St. James offense lined up before officials ruled that Brown had not gained the first.
A 12-minute delay ensued as Valdez argued against the call. He eventually won the argument, and St. James was ruled to have picked up the first down. An angered Richardson took his turn to argue on Donaldsonville's behalf, to no avail.
After the delay, Brown scored on a 2-yard run to give the Wildcats the lead.
St. James used a 10-play, 55-yard drive midway through the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. Shamar Smith completed four passes for 24 yards before Terrell Brown capped the drive with a 1-yard run.
Following the kickoff, Donaldsonville came right back as Jaylin Williams found a wide open LaDarius Jackson on third-and-2 for a 53-yard touchdown completion. From the swinging gate formation, Jamon Pleasant ran in for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead for the Tigers.
St. James, which limited Donaldsonville to three first downs in the half, had a chance to take the lead back early in the second quarter. Alex Mahler’s 26-yard field goal try glanced off the right upright and was no good.