PORT ALLEN - In the final analysis, it’s hard to see how close Port Allen may have been to a potentially different fate.
The Pelicans twice had goal-to-go situations in the first half only to come away empty-handed.
Against the state’s top-ranked team it proved costly.
No. 1 St. Charles Catholic added to a tenuous two-touchdown halftime lead with four straight offensive touchdowns and added a defensive score for good measure en route to a 48-0 District 7-3A victory Friday over previously unbeaten Port Allen at Guy Otwell Field.
“When you get to the 1, you’ve got to punch the ball in,” Port Allen football coach Guy Blanchard said. “You do that, and it’s 14-13 or 13-13 at halftime and it’s a different game in the second half.”
The inability of Port Allen (6-1, 1-1 in district) to convert on a pair of first-and-goal situations had a direct correlation to the Pelicans’ 13-0 halftime deficit. The Pelicans ended three first-half possessions in St. Charles territory, including back-to-back 13-play drives that twice reached the 1-yard line.
Running back Ricky Merritt was dropped for a three-yard loss on third down and quarterback Darian Claiborne was swarmed under for no gain on fourth down on the second play of the second quarter.
Defensive lineman Morris Miller helped Port Allen snuff out a fake punt to get the ball back at St. Charles’ 40 and back-up quarterback Caleb Johnson (4-for-8, 60 yards) connected with Ashton Paul Williams (3-78) on a 23-yard slant route down to the 2.
Port Allen wound up running five plays and gaining only a yard and came away with no points after Ricky Decuir’s 30-yard field goal was low and wide to the left with 1:12 left before halftime.
“No team’s scored two touchdowns against them, and we’re at 1-yard line twice,” Blanchard said. “We’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities. Just missed opportunities. That’s what it was, and I said it during the week if we did that we’d be in trouble.”
St. Charles (7-0, 2-0 in district) distanced itself with a 21-point third quarter blitz and wound up scoring on all four its second-half possessions to open a 41-0 advantage Running back Lazedrick Thompson scored on runs of 15, 1 and 2 yards to cap a sterling evening four-TD outing where the Tulane commitment rushed 22 times for 208 yards, including 129 on 14 carries in the second half. The Comets finished with 468 yards worth of offense, 353 of which came on the ground.
“I don’t think we came out in the first half with a lot of emotion,” St. Charles football coach Frank Monica said. “Even though we had the lead at halftime (13-0) I didn’t feel very good about it. I felt there was another level that we could play at and we’re going to have to.”
St. Charles’ defense, which allowed 197 yards, sacked Claiborne four times for 28 yards in losses and picked off three second-half passes. Defensive back Jeffrey Hall brought back the first of his two interceptions back 24 yards for a touchdown with 6:13 left in the game to account for the final score.
Claiborne finished with 50 yards rushing on 17 carries and was 4 of 13 passing for 64 yards with an interception.
“I’m not disappointed in my guys at all. They played hard and against a great team like that,” Blanchard said. “There’s a reason why they’re No. 1. You can’t make mistakes and particulary not against them and if you do you you’ll get punished.”