ST. AMANT — The last time St. Amant won a playoff game, senior running back Nathan Taylor was 3 years old.
Gators fans were happy he was old enough to play Friday night.
The senior running back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 141 yards as No. 10-seeded St. Amant defeated No. 23 Covington 36-21 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The win was the school’s first playoff win since 2001.
St. Amant (9-2) advances to take on Hahnville in the next round.
“This win is important for our program, and we are excited to take the next step,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “I thought our team had a great effort in all three phases of the game. Nathan’s big touchdown run and punt return was the difference tonight. He played great.”
Up 23-21 late in the fourth quarter, Taylor returned a Covington punt 52 yards for a touchdown to seal the game and the lead for the Gators.
“I wanted to go to the outside but not without faking out several defenders going inside,” Taylor said of his punt return. “The coaching staff kind of has been working on that with us and it is fun to be able to use it in a game like this.”
Covington (6-5) took a 21-17 lead on their first possession of the third quarter when they capped off a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Austin Schexnaydre.
The Gators immediately answered with a 70-yard drive of their own with Taylor taking it in from 13 yards out to give them the lead for good.
“The coaching staff was pretty hard on us all week long because they knew we were capable of breaking this streak,” Taylor said. “They just keep preaching to us to come out and play our style of football. We just kept saying we want to see Week 12 for the first time in a very long time.”
St. Amant took its opening possession of the game and drove it 66 yards for a touchdown when Hayden Mallory found Tanner Mayo for an 11-yard touchdown.
Shut out for the first quarter, the Lions would get on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when Joshua Alfaro hit Tyson Blanks for a 66-yard touchdown.
The Gators immediately answered two plays later when Taylor scored on a 65-yard touchdown run to take a 14-7 lead.
Devin Brumfield capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive on the ensuing possession, scoring from 2 yards to tie the game back up 14-14.
The sophomore running back for the Lions finished with 41 carries for 214 yards and a touchdown.
Taking advantage of a second Covington fumble late in the second quarter, Briggs Bourgeois’ 40-yard field goal gave the Gators a 17-14 advantage.
Lions coach Greg Salter said his team just had too many mistakes to win a postseason game.
“Penalties and turnovers cost us the game,” he said. “When you get to the postseason those things decide these types of games when two good teams play each other.”