Thursday’s matchup between St. Augustine and Holy Cross displayed two teams desperate for a win, and they played like it.
Both teams fought down to the final second, but the Tigers (5-4, 3-3 in District 9-5A) got a much-needed stop on the final play to seal a 23-19 win over the Purple Knights in a Catholic League game at Tad Gormley Stadium on Thursday night.
“It was a sloppy game at times, but our defense came up with a huge play there at the end for us,” Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo said. “We still have a lot to work on, but it’s always good to finish district with a win.”
After forcing a St. Aug fumble to open the second half, Holy Cross methodically moved down the field and took control.
The Tigers went 65 yards in 12 plays on their first drive of the half and concluded it with a 30-yard field goal by Gavin Broussard. They followed that up with a seven-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Chandler Fields making several Purple Knight defenders miss and floating a pass to Bret Carter in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to take a 23-19 lead with 10 minutes left.
Fields completed 13 of 20 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tre Turner had 18 carries for 95 yards and a score.
“This was definitely the best I’ve felt in a while, and it showed in my play,” said Turner, an Arizona St. commitment. “It’s been difficult over the past few games, but I came out (Thursday) and did what I had to do.”
St. Aug (2-7, 2-3) got the ball one last time with an opportunity to win, but Holy Cross punter Gavin Broussard pinned them at the 1-yard line with a well-placed punt. The Purple Knights got a 45-yard catch from Paul Keller on a fourth-and-6 to get them out of the shadow of their goal posts, but were failed to complete the game-winning drive and quarterback Justice McCoy threw an incomplete pass from the 16-yard line on the final play.
McCoy finished 11 for 21 with 179 yards and a touchdown, while adding six carries for 38 yards. This marked the team’s fourth straight loss and the fifth game the Purple Knights has lost this season by seven points or fewer.
“We just have to go back to the lab and keep working. It hurts, but that’s the only thing we can do,” St. Aug coach Al Jones said.
Holy Cross dominated the time of possession battle for the majority of the first half, forcing St. Aug into a three-and-out on its only possession of the first quarter and holding them to one first down on the Purple Knights’ next possession in the second.
But, a 99-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by defensive lineman Lawrence Adams kept St. Aug within striking distance just long enough until its explosive offense could start making plays.
The Purple Knights scored on a two-play, 60-yard drive with a 39-yard run by Darrell Landry and followed that with a 37-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to Takulve Williams to give the Purple Knights a 19-14 lead going into halftime.