Jesuit coach Mark Songy said his team “is always looking for a little edge on special teams” and Friday night the Jays’ kicking game gave it two extra first-half possession that resulted in two touchdowns Friday night.
Those turned out to be the difference as Jesuit, ranked No. 4 in the Super 10 and No. 6 in Class 5A, earned a 34-20 District 9-5A win over St. Augustine at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The Jays (8-2, 4-1) can get a three-way share of the Catholic League title if Brother Martin beats Rummel on Saturday afternoon.
Jesuit followed each of its first-half touchdown drives with a short kickoff and both found soft spots in the St. Augustine return alignment. Jesuit recovered and turned each of those added possessions into touchdowns.
After St. Aug (4-5, 1-4) took a 6-0 lead and missed on a two-point conversion, Jesuit safely secured a short kickoff at the Jesuit 40-yard line.
On the first snap after the kick, LaForge found Chris Mills, who had lined up in the slot, slanting over the middle. Mills raced 60 yards for a touchdown. After Crew Jacobs’ kick gave the Jays a 7-6 lead, they did not trail the rest of the night.
The Jays short kicked into an open area of St. Augustine’s kickoff return formation, and Jandon Briscoe grabbed the bouncing kick for Jesuit at the Knights’ 31.
LaForge, who passed for 117 yards in the first half (133 in the game), completed passes to Kalija Lipscomb for 11 yards and Mills for 17 before Charles Jackson scored on a 3-yard run.
The Knights drove 71 yards in 14 plays to make it 14-12 just before the end of the first quarter. Lanard Fournette scored from the 4.
Jesuit then marched 76 yards with a 21-yard LaForge to Lipscomb pass giving the Jays a 20-12 lead.
Again kicking short, the Jays’ Malcolm Ben recovered on the St. Augustine 38. Mills ran three times for the 38 yards, scoring on a 21-yard burst with 7:25 remaining until halftime. Mills gained 83 yards on nine first-half carries.
Midway through the third period, St. Augustine cut the Jays’ lead to seven points, driving 54 yards in 10 plays. A 30-yard McCoy to Takulve Williams pass made it 27-18. McCoy hit Paul Keller for a two-point conversion.
Jesuit answered with a 49-yard drive on the next possession. Jackson did the heavy lifting, carrying eight of the first 10 plays, but Hunter Robert covered the final two on a fourth-down plunge. Jacobs’ kick made it 34-20 with 9:27 remaining in the fourth. The Jays were still not out of the woods.
“I was not happy with the way we finished this one off,” Songy said. “We’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Jesuit stopped St. Augustine on downs at the Jays 17 in the final four minutes and then again at the 37 in the final 90 seconds.