With a District 6-4A showdown against Lutcher on the horizon, St. Michael the Archangel football coach Eric Held wanted his team to focus on the present.
After falling behind 20-10 in the first half, St. Michael erupted for 21 points in the third quarter and stifled the Belaire offense as the Warriors outlasted the Panthers 38-20 at Olympia Stadium.
“We had a little wakeup call in the first 24 minutes,” said SMHS coach Eric Hold. “But this is where we wanted to be, 6-0 coming into the Lutcher game.”
The Warriors (6-0, 2-0), who entered the game averaging 38 points per contest, mustered only a field goal in its first six possessions as quarterback Dash Duncan missed four of his first five pass attempts.
But Duncan executed a perfect two-minute drill just before halftime to bring the Warriors back from a double-digit deficit, throwing for two first downs before finding Christian Frey in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass to make the score 20-17.
“That touchdown gave Duncan a lot of confidence and gave us a lot of confidence,” Hold said. “It really got us moving.”
The Warriors distanced themselves from the Panthers (1-5, 1-2) in the third quarter with a torrent of big plays: a 28-yard touchdown pass from Duncan to Frey, a 26-yard touchdown pass from Duncan to Brandon Fields and a 28-yard run by Fields.
Duncan finished 13-of-19 passing with 160 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Fields rushed for 76 yards on seven attempts.
“If you let him sit back and have time, he makes you pay,” said Belaire coach Jason Wilkins of Duncan. “We blew a couple of coverages and he made us pay.”
After rushing for 100 yards in a win against Istrouma last week, Belaire quarterback Jarvis York was sacked four times against St. Michael. The Warriors held the Bengals to 49 yards and allowed only four first downs in the second half. York finished with 112 total yards on offense with a rushing touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
“It’s hard to make up when you’re playing behind the sticks,” Wilkins said. “They made their adjustments in the second half, and we made one too many mistakes.”
After a Belaire touchdown in the first quarter, the Warriors appeared to settle into the game when Warriors cornerback C.J. Okpalobi intercepted a York pass and returned it for a 75-yard touchdown.
But the Bengals built a double-digit lead in the second quarter thanks to a pair of return touchdowns.
Following a Belaire three-and-out, Duncan dropped back looking for J.T. Mauldin on a screen play. But the ball was tipped and intercepted by defensive end Nicholas Lathen, who returned it for a 34-yard touchdown. After a Warriors field goal, York fielded the ensuing kickoff and followed a cavalry of blockers down the sideline for an 83-yard touchdown return to increase Belaire’s lead 20-10.
After suffering three tackles for loss on their opening drive, the Bengals converted three first downs on a nine-play, 63-yard scoring drive. York rushed on four straight plays for 43 yards, including a 4-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown, and converted the two-point attempt to give the Bengals an 8-0 lead.