DONALDSONVILLE — It had the earmarks of a showdown featuring two of the state’s top recruits, St. James sophomore Lowell Narcisse and Donaldsonville junior Stephen Sullivan.
Sullivan got the LeBlancs/River Parish Jamboree off to a fast start with a big play. But it was Narcisse who finished it with a game-winning touchdown.
The SJHS quarterback scored on a 6-yard run with 17 seconds left to lift the Wildcats to a 19-13 victory over Donaldsonville Thursday night at Floyd Boutte Stadium.
“I saw it (hole) open up, and I followed my tackle all the way,” Narcisse said. “It just so happened I got in the end zone.”
The preseason jamboree didn’t count on either team’s record. But a large crowd came to the see the two longtime rivals play for the first time in more than five years.
Donaldsonville got the ball and quickly got the game’s biggest play.
Tyler Brown connected with Sullivan on a mid-range pass to the left on the game’s third scrimmage play. The 6-foot-6 Sullivan turned that play into a 79-yard touchdown. Sullivan added the PAT kick to make it 7-0 with 13:50 left in the first half. Unfortunately, the play also was Sullivan’s lone reception. He did turn in a sack on defense and added a 45-yard punt.
The game had its share of dropped passes and throws that went just beyond the reach of receivers. There were penalties, too.
“We have a lot of guys who are getting in a varsity game for the first time,” St. James coach Dwain Jenkins said. “A couple of those drops early on were by freshmen and sophomores.
“There was pressure and noise. This was a great experience. Really something they can learn from.”
Narcisse started slow, even though Houston Wiggins returned the ensuing kick 45 yards. His first three passes were incomplete, glancing off the hands of receivers. He finished 4-of-11 for 73 yards, while also running for 78 yards.
St. James’ second possession covered 61 yards. Instead of passing the ball, Narcisse made a big play with feet, rambling 22 yards for a key first down.
Aquindas Steib scored on a 6-yard run and booted the PAT kick to tie the contest at 7-7 with 6:50 left in the half.
Donaldsonville had two chances to score late in the half after Aaron Julien picked off a short pass by Narcisse and returned it 9 yards to the SJHS 10. An intentional grounding call on Brown pushed the Tigers back.
Two passes to Sullivan in the end zone were nearly completed. One was broken up by a defender and the other glanced off Sullivan’s outstretched hand.
“I think fatigue played a part for us and really for both teams,” Donaldsonville coach Benny Guilbeaux said. “It was the first time guys were in a situation where their emotions got the best of them. It was a good test.”
Narcisse’s first big completion was a 38-yarder to sophomore Dontaze Costly. That play set up a 2-yard TD run by Narcisse that gave the Wildcats a 13-7 with 26 seconds left in the first half.
Another interception of a Narcisse pass — this one by Cardell Forcell — tied the game. Forcell returned the interception 26 yards to even the score at 13-13 with 10:56 left in the game.
DHS quarterback Tyler Brown went down with cramps following the two-point PAT try.
The next time Donaldsonville got the ball Sullivan took a turn at quarterback. The Tigers struggled to move the ball.
St. James drove to the Donaldsonville 20 on its next possession and then to the Tiger 7 on the possession after that but turned the ball over on downs. St. James’ Kaelan Zenon intercepted a Brown pass with 1:54 left to set up the game-winning score.
“The big thing is there were no major injuries,” Donaldsonville’s Guilbeaux said.
“We both got to see some young guys were going to have to rely on and that was good.”