Over the PA system at Richard F. Gill Cub Field, they call him “the touchdown maker,” and for good reason. “Making touchdowns,” a smiling Jalon Baker said. “Very simple. I make touchdowns.”
Friday was no exception.
The U-High senior defensive back scored two defensive touchdowns, running back Nick Brossette added three of his own, and Cubs quarterback Manny Miles tossed two more in a 61-21 trouncing of St. Louis.
Baker started both halves with 50-plus yard touchdowns, the first giving U-High breathing room after an early Cubs three-and-out energized the St. Louis crowd.
Saints running back Colby Rodriguez fumbled a handoff right into Baker’s hands on St. Louis’ second play. Baker scampered 53 yards up the sideline to paydirt, giving the Cubs an early 6-0 lead.
“I always play with a little swagger (and) confidence, and the defense plays with a swagger,” Baker said. “Wide open field, by myself, touchdown. As a team, you’re always looking for a big play to spark the energy. I think that was big.”
After Brossette ran in a 20-yard score untouched on the Cubs’ next possession, Baker struck again, recovering Dekeinen Francois’ fumbled kickoff return to place the Cubs on the St. Louis 30-yard line.
Brossette shouldered the load on the ensuing possession, including a 13-yard fourth-down conversion, where he lowered his shoulder to run over multiple Saints defenders. He finished it off with a bruising 10-yard run two plays later to put the Cubs up 20-0 with 5:22 left in the first quarter.
“The coaches put us in good situations; we practiced hard for the two weeks we had off, and it was great,” Brossette said. “We’re just having fun.”
The LSU commitment finished the half with 65 yards on nine carries, adding a third touchdown on the Cubs’ next drive — a drive that removed any lingering upset inclinations.
After Brennan Boudreaux came through unimpeded to sack Saints quarterback Cameron Fontenot on fourth down, Miles connected with Malik Antoine for a 45-yard screen pass, eluding defenders for a touchdown on U-High’s first offensive play.
But a holding penalty coupled with a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct against the Cubs wiped it out and gave the Cubs a 1st-and-30 back in their own territory.
No issue for Miles. He picked apart the Saints secondary, slinging a 15-yard completion to Mark Gravois before hitting Will Keller down the seam for a 40-yard gain, putting the Cubs in the red zone and setting up Brossette’s third touchdown of the quarter.
It was a visible relief for Cubs coach Chad Mahaffey, who was slightly concerned whether his team’s energy would be intact after a bye week.
“I thought our kids played really fast,” Mahaffey said. “Coming off a bye week, you never know if that may happen. I thought the guys looked hungry to play.”
The game spelled the end of St. Louis coach Charlie Cryer’s first season, a season that saw his Saints start 1-4 and lose their starting quarterback before reeling off five wins in the last six games behind Fontenot.
“Five weeks ago, we were 1-4,” Cryer said. “I’ve got 18 starters coming back. I told the kids, ‘Don’t let one game define your season, because we’ve come a long way.’ ”