Passing plays were a rare commodity at Olympia Stadium on Thursday night. But there was no shortage of offense.
St. John-Plaquemine running back Christian Primeaux found the end zone four times as the Class 1A Eagles cruised past the 4A Belaire High, 51-22.
St. John (1-0) wore down the Bengals’ defense with 244 first-half rushing yards before outscoring the Bengals (0-1) 27-8 in the third quarter.
Primeaux finished with 158 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Senior playmaker Davante Williams added 155 yards on the ground to go with a touchdown and an interception.
Quarterback Hunter Schnebelen and running back Kaleb Campesi also chipped in with rushing scores as the Eagles finished with 458 yards on the ground.
“We blocked well and I think we might’ve worn them down as the game went on,” St. John coach Tut Musemeche said. “But you have to credit their coaches. They found some spots in the film where we might’ve been soft.”
The St. John offense converted six first downs on its opening possession and finished with 28. Primeaux capped off the 10-play, 82-yard drive from four yards out on fourth-and-goal and added the two-point conversion to give the Eagles an 8-0 lead. Primeaux added scoring runs of eight, nine and 10 yards.
“It was more about the guys up front than the guys toting the ball,” Musemeche said. “They were able to get a couple of yards into the linebackers’ depth before our backs had to make cuts on a lot of plays.”
Belaire appeared ready for the task at hand. The Bengals recovered an onside kick attempt to open the game and marched into St. John territory. Running back Joseph Morrison found room up the middle for a 21-yard gain before the drive stalled on downs inside the SJHS 10.
The Bengals followed with a 65-yard scoring drive on their next possession. Morrison, quarterback Jarvis York and running back Stephen Philips each broke loose for runs of 10 yards then a defensive personal foul put the Bengals inside the SJHS 20. Morrison scored from six yards out to make the score 8-6.
Belaire finished with 269 total yards, led by York who ran for 66, threw for 115 and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. But the Bengals couldn’t find an answer for St. John’s option offense.
“They were just better than us tonight,” Belaire coach Jason Wilkins said. “They were a little bit stronger, a little bit more physical and that made for a hard time stopping the run.”
After an 8-yard touchdown run by Primeaux gave the Eagles a 16-6 lead, York connected with Devin Day on a deep crossing route for a 32-yard gain. York scrambled for a first down on third-and-12 to keep Belaire’s drive alive before running back Stephens’ 4-yard touchdown run made the score 16-14.
Belaire didn’t reach the endzone again until late in the third quarter when York returned a 85-yard kickoff for a TD. By that time, St. John had a 45-22.