St. James came into Friday night’s game riding a three-game winning streak after its opening-week loss to West Jefferson. But the Wildcats got all they could handle and more from Lusher.
Still, St. James prevailed 14-8 at Brees Family Field thanks to some key plays by the defense.
“We have to find an identity on the field,” St. James coach Dwain Jenkins said. “We missed some key assignments in the second half, but we just did enough out there. Lusher made the adjustments to force us to run the ball, and we couldn’t capitalize.”
St. James (4-1) went scoreless on its final seven possessions, opening the door for Lusher. But the Wildcats ended all hope of a comeback when Dequnicy Robinson picked off a Lusher pass (his second interception of the game) with 1:22 left.
Robinson and fellow senior Jai Lewis combined for six pass breakups and nine tackles.
“I just needed to make plays tonight for my team, and I think I did that,” Robinson said. “Having a guy like Jai back there with me made things a lot easier. We just have to limit the big plays and stay disciplined.”
St. James’ Demarcus Williams ran into his end zone for a safety in an attempt to run out the clock. One second remained after the free kick by St. James, but the Lions’ Hail Mary attempt fell to the ground.
Lusher (2-3) had chances to turn the table in the second half. After the Lions forced a second straight three-and-out, cornerback Cornell Holmes Jr. blocked the ensuing punt in St. James territory.
But the drive would stall and force the defense back on the field. Lions coach Louis Landrum said he wanted his team to “play with heart through adversity.”
“I wanted to see if they would show up, and we did,” he said. “We showed up big time, but it was just a little too late. Playing close games is a part of our diet as a team. We don’t panic when it gets tough.”
Lusher opened the second half with a sense of urgency as the Lions marched 50 yards for their first score. Nick Albert sliced through the Wildcats defense on his way to a 22-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 14-8. Albert finished with 44 yards on nine carries.
Running back Aquindas Steib crashed in both of the Wildcats’ scores in the first half. He took two Lusher defenders on his back from 2 yards out, and he turned on the afterburners a drive later and scored from 29 yards.