ST. AMANT - Late first-half momentum turned into second-half dominance for St. Amant in a 45-13 victory against District 5-5A foe McKinley on Friday night at The Pit.
The Gators rolled up 282 rushing yards, and Cameron Morris and Alexis Jackson each scored two touchdowns as St. Amant (5-3, 1-2 in 5-5A) earned a much-needed district win.
Morris rushed for a game-high 106 yards, and Jackson added 87.
Lenard Tillery rushed for 101 yards for McKinley (3-5, 1-2) but was limited after tweaking an ankle in the second quarter.
Leading 14-13, St. Amant’s defense came up big as the Gators took control in the final two minutes of the first half.
After Jackson’s 12-yard TD run gave St. Amant a 21-13 lead with 1:37 to go before halftime, Nick Bickham’s sack and fumble recovery gave the Gators another scoring opportunity.
Tyler Guillory’s 15-yard TD pass to Tylor Gonzales with 5 seconds left in the half gave St. Amant a 28-13 lead at halftime.
St. Amant coach David Oliver singled out Bickham’s play.
“That was a big point in the game right before the half,” Oliver said. “We felt like the biggest part was coming out and winning the third quarter.”
The Gators defense answered the challenge in the third quarter by forcing a punt and another turnover on downs by McKinley. St. Amant’s offense followed with a score after each stop.
Kirk Belleu booted a 26-yard field goal, and Jackson’s 30-yard TD run gave the Gators a 38-13 cushion with 1:32 to play in the third quarter.
Guillory’s 1-yard run with 5:34 left in the game rounded out the scoring.
McKinley coach Robert Signater praised the Gators and expressed disappointment in his team.
“We played like we were in a tunnel,” Signater said. “We played like we were sleepwalking. It’s just like we weren’t here. I can’t explain it, and I don’t understand it. Hats off to St. Amant. They did what they were supposed to do.”
St. Amant took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards - all on the ground - to take a 7-0 lead.
Jackson’s 9-yard fake-punt run from the McKinley 43 kept the opening series alive. Morris rushed for 55 yards on the drive, including the final 2 as St. Amant went ahead 7-0 with 6:39 remaining in the first quarter.
McKinley quickly responded to tie the game. The Panthers moved 64 yards in less than three minutes, capped by Jarred Hayes’ 28-yard TD pass to Cody Swain. Chris Bush-Jones kicked the PAT with 3:51 to go in the first quarter.
Morris’ second 2-yard TD run on the following drive helped the Gators take a 14-7 lead with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
Delwin Rodney’s 54-yard interception return set up a 2-yard TD run by Tillery.
leaped over the goal line for a 2-yard TD run as the Panthers cut St. Amant’s lead to 14-13 with 8:54 left in the first half.