St. Amant High football coach David Oliver talked about making adjustments at halftime. One thing that didn’t change was the role Cade Nelson played.
The 5-foot-7 running back ran for 96 second-half yards and a game-clinching touchdown as St. Amant rallied to notch a 22-10 victory over rival East Ascension on Friday night at The Pit.
“Once we got the lead, we knew we had to keep our foot on the pedal,” Nelson said. “This is a big rivalry game, and we knew EA was not going to stop fighting us. It’s all adrenaline.”
With the win, the Gators (9-1, 4-1) share the District 5-5A title with eighth-ranked East Ascension (8-2, 4-1).
The story of the game was no mystery. Nelson ran for a game-high 152 yards on 33 carries and two TDs. Quarterback Halen Miller added 83 yards on 20 carries and also scored a TD. St. Amant dominated time of possession, 31 minutes, 10 seconds to 16:50 for EAHS.
The Gators have won two in a row and lead the series 20-18. It is the first time in eight years that either team has won twice in a row.
“We had kids trying to make plays, and at times there were trying too hard,” East Ascension coach Darnell Lee said. “We’ve got to get better as coaches. There were times tonight where we put the kids in some bad situations. Our defense has been our strength all year, but they were out there too long.”
St. Amant outgained East Ascension 356 to 182. The Gators intercepted two passes and limited Spartan playmaker Jimel London to just 32 rushing yards. Jason Wakefield was 10 for 24 for 146 yards.
Nelson scored on a 17-yard run 34 seconds into the second period, giving the Gators a 7-0 lead. He also had a 16-yard run to fuel the drive.
East Ascension came right back with a 65-yard TD drive. Shaivonn Robinson had two key receptions from Wakefield, including a 16-yard scoring toss with 8:36 remaining in the half.
The score was tied until the Spartans forced the first turnover of the night — a fumble recovered by Jordan Campbell. Campbell was one of several EAHS defenders who swarmed around Miller to force the turnover. The fumble led to a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Gremillion on the final play of the half, making it 10-7 EAHS.
The momentum shift started when the Spartans couldn’t move the ball to open the second half. St. Amant countered with a 65-yard run drive that ended with Miller’s 1-yard TD run with 4:32 left in the third quarter. A KJ Franklin interception put the Gators quickly back in the red zone.
What looked like a big play for the Spartans quickly turned the other way. Darren Wilson stepped into the end zone after intercepting a Miller pass near the goal line, giving the Gators safety and a 16-10 lead.
Reed Babin’s interception and 58-yard return followed to set up the last TD, a 15-yard Nelson run.
“If we’ve got to share a title, we’d rather share it with another Ascension Parish team,” Oliver said. “I thought the biggest thing was we corrected mistakes in the second half. And we were very opportunistic with our defense, our offensive line and Cade Nelson behind them.”