The St. Augustine marching band could’ve stopped playing when the lights went out during the first quarter at Tad Gormley Stadium Saturday night.
The Purple Knights’ football team could’ve stopped playing after play resumed and they found themselves in a hole to perenial power John Curtis.
Nope, they didn’t either.
Instead, St. Aug rallied, scoring nine fourth quarter points to stun Curtis 15-13, snapping the Patriots’ 11-game winning streak in the process.
It was Curtis first loss since falling to St. Aug last season in this very same stadium.
St. Aug defensive back Jerome Smith, a hero in this one, wasn’t around for that one.
He was playing at Carver.
But with no senior class at Carver this season as the school phases into a merger, Smith had to find a new school.
Cyril Crutchfield is glad he made his way to 2600 A P Tureaud Avenue.
Smith’s interception on fourth down in the waning minutes sealed the victory that will likely knock the Patriots out of the national rankings.
Curtis had driven to the St. Aug 35-yard line before Smith’s pick with 2:29 left.
There wasn’t a national television audience to watch the game like last year.
Neither were there a slew of 5-star recruits on the field like 2013 when Leonard Fournette racked up 345 yards of offense in a thriller.
But John Curtis and St. Augustine gave the Tad Gormley crowd what turned out to be a solid sequel.
St. Augustine (3-1), ranked No. 10 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10, rallied from a 13-6 halftime deficit and blanked the Patriots in the second half.
It was the first time Curtis dropped back-to-back games to the same team in consecutive seasons since losing to Evangel in 2009 and 2010.
While Smith came up with the big defensive play, it was the offense of Justice McCoy and Stanley Morgan that rescued the Purple Knights.
McCoy completed 15 of 23 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns went to Morgan, who finished the night with five catches for 146 yards.
The second of those touchdowns, with 7:51 left, came when Morgan outjumped Hunter Dale in the end zone for a 3-yard score. It was the only touchdown of the second half and cut St. Aug’s deficit from 13-6 to 13-12. The touchdown capped a five-play 83-yard drive. Morgan also had a 50-yard reception on the drive.
Less than two minutes later, Apprecio Wiggins kicked what proved to be the game-winner, a 27-yard field goal with 6:15 left. The field goal came after Curtis fumbled the kickoff after the Morgan touchdown.
Curtis (4-1) came into the game ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate Small School Super 10, No. 1 in the LSWA Class 3A rankings, and No. 16 nationally in the USA Today Super 25.
They looked poise to stretch their winning streak to 12 early on.
Curtis scored on its opening possession, putting together an eight-play, 78-yard drive. Senior quarterback Myles Washington capped the drive with a 29-yard touchdown run.
But the Purple Knights didn’t long responding.
On the third play of the ensuing drive, McCoy connected with Morgan, who sprinted the rest of the way for a 64-yard touchdown pass with 8:03 left in the first quarter to tie it 6-6.
Four minutes later, the lights went out at Gormley, causing a 24-minute delay.
Curtis regained the lead early in the second quarter on a 5-yard run by Devon Benn.
Benn was coming off a career night when he rushed for 269 yards against Karr last week.
His touchdown was set up when St. Aug muffed a punt that set the Patriots up at the St. Aug 9-yard line.
Other than Morgan’s big touchdown reception, the Patriots held the Purple Knights in check in the first half that ended with Curtis leading 13-6. Excluding that 64-yard touchdown, Curtis held St. Aug to just 60 yards through the first two quarters.
The stellar defensive outing came despite the Patriots playing without linebacker/defensive end Bo Wallace. Wallace and running back teammate Darryan Washington were suspended for the game after their involvement in a fight last week in the 34-22 win over Karr.
But momentum shifted late in the third quarter and it was all Purple Knights.
Curtis had a chance to extend its lead late in the third quarter, getting to the St. Aug 1-yard line. But Washington fumbled on the next-to-last play of the quarter and the Purple Knights recovered. Washington finished the night with 103 yards on 16 carries.
The play breathed new life into St. Aug, which begins Catholic League play on Saturday when it plays undefeated Brother Martin at 2:30 p.m. at Gormley.
Curtis will plays at St. Charles in the District 11-3A opener.