Before Friday’s Catholic opener against Jesuit, St. Augustine coach Al Jones was yearning for “a couple of big plays” for his winless team.
His big-play cup runneth over Friday night and his team won its first game of the season, defeating Jesuit 32-20 at Tad Gormley stadium in a District 9 5-A game.
Winless in its first three games, the Knights used two big plays in the second quarter to bolt to a 26-17 lead, then stretched their advantage to 32-20 in the fourth period with an 85-yard TD pass.
The defense chipped in with an interception by Donniel Ward-Magee at the Knights’ 3-yard line with less than four minutes remaining that stopped the Jays last gasp at a comeback.
It was defending state champion Jesuit’s (2-2) fifth turnover of the game that featured 65 passes by both teams and took three hours and 10 minutes to play.
Quarterback Justice McCoy’s 85-yard pass to Jonathan Willard with 6:14 remaining was the Knights’ only score of the second half.
After his team’s 0-3 start Jones had said “We don’t feel like an 0-3 team. ... I think we are just a couple of plays away (from winning).”
McCoy also threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jamal Pettigrew, one of three he threw. McCoy finished with 401 yards total offense including 334 passing. He completed 22 of 34 passes.
Big plays by the Knights’ Pettigrew and Cordie Johnson came after Jesuit had taken a 17-14 lead in the second period. Both enabled St. Augustine to outscore the Jays 20-3 in the quarter.
Jones got his first big play when Pettigrew, an LSU commitment, caught a simple hook pass from McCoy 10 yards deep into the Jays secondary, alertly turned upfield and ran 65 yards for the score. It was Pettigrew’s only catch of the half.
McCoy threw for 218 yards in the first half, completing 15 of 22 passes. He ran for another 58 on 10 carries.
That set the stage for Johnson’s opportunistic plays.
A Peter Hontas to Kalija Lipscomb pass hit Lipscomb but the ball tumbled over Lipscomb’s shoulder, and St. Aug’s Johnson alertly grabbed it at the Jays’ 35 and returned it to the 14.
The Jesuit defense held on downs, but on the Jays’ first snap, Johnson grabbed a fumble at the Jesuit 11. On the Knights’ second play from that point, Giovanni LaFrance, a Tulane commitment bulled in from 4 yards out.
St. Augustine led 26-17 with 6:20 remaining in the first half.
Jesuit drove 79 yards in 14 plays midway through the third quarter before the St. Aug defense stopped the Jays at the 4. Crew Jacobs kicked his second field to cut the Knights’ lead to 26-20.
McCoy’s long touchdown pass to Jonathan Willard with 6:12 gave the Knights’ its final 32-20 advantage.
“We’re young,” said Jesuit Coach Mark Songy, pointing to his team’s need for game experience. “We’d just need to get under the lights more to get better”