ST. AMANT — St. Amant coach David Oliver said Friday night’s game against Lutcher would be the Gators’ toughest test to date. He wasn’t wrong.
With no time left on the clock, Lutcher quarterback Jontre Kirklin found Tariq Belvin in the end zone to push the Bulldogs within one point of the Gators. Instead of taking the game into over time with the extra point, Lutcher coach Tim Detillier opted for the two-point conversion to decide the game then and there.
As Kirklin rolled out to the right side, his pass at the pylon fell incomplete, letting stand the Gators’ 21-20 comeback victory.
“I thought it was going to have to go 48 minutes, and it went exactly 48 minutes,” Oliver said. “… Our defense had been tremendous all night, and they bowed up one more time and got us a victory.”
Detillier said he had decided to go for the two-point conversion back in the third quarter, if the game were to go that way.
“I just think we couldn’t get a break,” Detillier said. “The entire football game, not one break went our way.”
St. Amant found itself trailing for the first time this season as first-year starting quarterback Hayden Mallory struggled to build a connection with his receivers, but a complete turnaround in the second half sparked the Gators to victory.
The junior said the offense didn’t make many adjustments at halftime when they were down 14-7, but plays just happened to fall their way after the break.
Mallory finished with 156 yards and three touchdowns on 15-for-36 passing, but most of those yards came in the second half as he generated a 11-for-18 passing clip for 109 yards.
“It just kind of started working,” Mallory said. “Once we found that run game, I think we were really able to open it up.”
Mark Darby led the Gators with 59 yards rushing.
The Gators were finally able to take their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter when Oliver opted to forgo what would have been a 45-yard field goal attempt for the lead, instead letting Mallory air it out on fourth down from the Bulldogs 30-yard line.
Mallory hit junior wide receiver Briggs Bourgeois — who would have taken the kick — at about the 20-yard line, where Bourgeois broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.
The drive was by far the best of the night for St. Amant, going 90 yards in 15 plays.
“We were debating on what to call there,” Mallory said. “We got the matchup that we liked, and we took advantage. It was a great call by coach and execution on our part.”
Lutcher had several chances to tie the game at the end, but penalties and a fumble by Kirklin with a little less than three minutes to play, his third of the night, killed any momentum the Bulldogs had.
Kirklin finished with 257 yards and a score on 19-for-31 passing and another 123 yards and a touchdown on the ground.