The start to St. Amant’s perfect season is now complete with its first bit of early angst.
A week after surviving a missed two-point conversion on the game’s final play, the Gators displayed the ability to play from behind just as comfortably as they’ve played from ahead.
St. Amant wiped out a two-touchdown, first-quarter deficit, scoring 34 unanswered points over the final 33 minutes Friday for a 34-14 victory over former District 5-5A foe Woodlawn.
“When we have something like the first six minutes, you wouldn’t have recognized us,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “We’ve got to get that corrected and play 48 minutes, but we played hard the whole time.”
Quarterback Hayden Mallory was at the fore of St. Amant’s comeback, completing 22 of 35 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns.
The Gators (4-0) rolled up an impressive total of 487 yards, with 476 of that coming after the first quarter.
Running back Nathan Taylor accounted for 242 yards and two touchdowns on 26 touches, including a game-high 199 rushing yards on 23 carries.
“After the first 7 to 8 minutes, I thought offense and defense really played well, and we protected the ball and really played good football,” Oliver said.
Wide receiver Briggs Bourgeois, who had a 51-yard TD catch-and-run in the final two minutes of the first half, sparked St. Amant’s surge, which featured the Gators scoring on three of their four second-half drives.
Bourgeois totaled 193 all-purpose yards and scored 19 points. He caught five passes for 125 yards and a pair of scores, kicked field goals of 35 and 29 yards and added an extra point after his 11-yard score provided the Gators with the go-ahead score (18-14) less than a minute into the third quarter.
“We just need to learn how to handle success early,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “That’s two weeks in a row we jump out to big leads and take the foot off the (gas) pedal.”
Quarterback Jamari Nelson was the catalyst in the early success of Woodlawn (1-3), taking advantage of the middle of St. Amant’s defense, completing 10 of 17 passes for 110 yards and a pair of 19-yard touchdowns to Taj Sullivan within a four-minute span of the opening quarter to lead 14-0.
Nelson finished 19 of 46 for 214 yards, with receiver Darion Johnson leading the way with 10 catches for 123 yards, and Sullivan added six catches for 79 yards and two scores.
St. Amant’s defense, which allowed 138 of Woodlawn’s 352 yards after halftime, forced the Panthers to punt eight times on their final 10 offensive series of the game — a stretch that also included a missed field goal and the clock running out to end the game.
“Hayden’s an outstanding quarterback, and our line played well,” Oliver said. “When things are going well, we really look like a good football team.”