GONZALES — The stakes were unusually low for East Ascension and St. Amant, but the District 5-5A rivals still put on a show Friday night during the LeBlanc Food Stores Jamboree at Spartan Stadium.
There were no Spartans fans wearing camouflage, and the Gators fans left their orange hunting gear at home. Otherwise, the teams provided their usual excitement on the field. A late defensive stop by East Ascension preserved the Spartans’ 21-14 win.
St. Amant had the ball at the EA 17 with less than two minutes to play, but the Spartans held on downs before running out the clock.
“These teams are so competitive,” East Ascension coach Paul Bourgeois said. “Once one team gets the momentum, they’re hard to stop. We were doing what we wanted to do. Then all of a sudden we couldn’t do anything right, and they were doing what they wanted to do.”
St. Amant fell behind 21-0 by halftime, but the Gators rallied on the arm of quarterback Hayden Mallory, who was 15 of 21 for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
Mallory’s scoring passes were 10 yards to Jacob Cheatwood and 5 yards to Larson Fontenot. The Gators’ final drive started on their 20 before stalling in the EA red zone.
“We were sloppy early, and you have to give EA credit for taking advantage,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “We had some high snaps. We had two balls go off receivers’ hands and get intercepted. We challenged our kids to come out and execute in the second half, and I think we did that.”
East Ascension took advantage of two turnovers, a fumble and an interception as it stormed to its first-half lead. The first turnover turned things around for the Spartans.
Mallory completed his first four passes, and the Gators quickly moved to midfield on the game’s opening possession. Mallory’s fifth pass bounced off the chest of Fontenot, and Maurshaud Melancon intercepted.
East Ascension needed just five plays to find the end zone. Raekwon Mackyeon zipped in on an end-around for a 6-0 lead five minutes into the game.
After forcing a three-and-out, East Ascension went 58 yards in 10 plays to push its lead to 14-0. The Spartans overcame a holding call and also benefited from a St. Amant personal foul. Kyran Irvin found Jamien Sampson from 9 yards out for the score.
Irvin ran in for the two-point conversion.
With less than two minutes to go in the half, defensive lineman Jayvin Johnson recovered a fumbled St. Amant snap at the SA 10. One play later, Irvin kept over right guard for a 4-yard touchdown.
Irvin led EA with 76 yards rushing, and threw for another 88 yards. He also threw two interceptions for the Spartans, who had three turnovers in the second half.
Mallory finished the game 19 of 29 for 229 yards. Fontenot was the top target catching nine passes for 103 yards. Briggs Bourgeois caught five passes for 68 yards.