VACHERIE — St. James coach Dwain Jenkins cringed every time the Wildcats’ four-star quarterback, Lowell Narcisse, touched the ball Friday night.
Hit after hit, Jenkins thought about how his offensive leader had barely returned to the field after suffering an ACL tear in the spring and was now putting his body in harm’s way during St. James’ Class 3A quarterfinal game.
Narcisse quickly put those fears to rest as the No. 15 Wildcats defeated No. 7 Northwest 28-14 behind Narcisse’s four touchdowns.
“(Narcisse is) a warrior,” Jenkins said. “He has some things we need to clean up, but when the game was on the line, he just battled.”
Narcisse, one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks and a Class of 2017 commitment to Auburn, missed the entire regular season before returning for the playoffs two weeks ago. He scored six touchdowns in the first two rounds while only taking 51 snaps.
This week, Narcisse took all 56 offensive snaps for the Wildcats (10-3), posting 100 yards and three scores on 11 of 21 passing and another 104 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in the process.
“It was great being back out there with the team,” Narcisse said. “I think we started out with a good start, but then we kind of sat back in the second half.”
Narcisse didn’t need much time to regain his rhythm with the offense, putting together a seven-play, 90-yard drive on the first possession, capped off with a scrambling 10-yard pass to receiver Curtlan Johnson.
The drive took a little over two minutes and was the most time consuming of St. James’ scoring drives, including two of less than 50 seconds.
The junior would again find the end zone near the end of the first quarter when he pulled down a draw play to take the ball 18 yards for his only touchdown rushing of the night.
In the second quarter, Narcisse found a connection with senior Arron McKenney, who caught a pair of touchdowns.
McKenney finished the game with 70 yards on four catches before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
“Dontaze Costly (thigh), Arron McKenney and Curtlan Johnson (knee) all went down in the second half,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to need all of those guys back if we’re going to have any chance next week.”
Northwest fought back in the second half, outscoring St. James 14-0 after halftime.
Northwest coach Chris Edwards thought his team could fight back the way it had in the previous two rounds, but ultimately said his decision to try an onside kick to start the fourth quarter killed any momentum the Raiders had.
It didn’t help Northwest that it put the ball on the ground eight times, including three muffed punts. St. James recovered three of the fumbles, but almost all of them put the Raiders in difficult spots.
Quarterback Chris Lee led the Raiders offense with 199 yards and a score on 27 carries and 86 yards and a touchdown through the air.
“We gave them too big of a lead,” Edwards said. “We can’t give a good team like that a lead like that at home.
“I think our guys just put a little too much pressure on themselves.”