EDGARD - West St. John and St. John came into their game for the District 9-1A title with identical records, identical run-oriented offensive philosophies and identical stingy defenses, but the difference between the teams on Thursday was Rams senior Jairus Moll and junior Kylum Favorite.
Moll used his versatility and Favorite used his running ability to lift West St. John to its first district title in four years.
Moll scored four touchdowns (three receiving and one punt return) and Favorite rushed for 262 yards and one touchdown to power the Rams to a 36-20 victory.
“Moll was real big, but so was (Favorite) and so was (defensive lineman Ronnie Feist an LSU commitment) and a lot of other guys,” St. John coach Tut Musemeche said. “They are a very deserving district champion.”
Favorite said he and his teammates were not going to let St. John defeat West St. John for the district title on the Rams’ home field again.
“This win feels good, because they beat us on this same field two years ago by one point (28-27) for the district title,” he said.
Even though St. John (6-3, 3-1) gained 345 yards, the West St. John defense managed to make clutch plays when it need to and stopped four drives inside the Rams 50-yard line.
The plays set the stage for the second half as West St. John outscored St. John 18-6.
West St. John (7-2, 4-0) increased its lead to 24-14 when Howard threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Moll, who out-jumped a St. John defender and jogged the remaining 15 yards into the end zone. The Rams, who drove 50 yards for a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, lost yards on a two-point conversion run.
The Rams added to their lead when Moll returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown to make the score 30-14. West St. John missed the extra-point kick.
But St. John’s Davante’ Williams scored on a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle to cut the score to 30-20. Williams was stopped short of the end zone on the two-point conversion run.
Moll put the game out of reach when he made a diving catch in the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown reception, which made the score 36-20 with 7:53 remaining in the game. The catch capped a seven-play, 58-yard scoring drive. West St. John failed on a run for the two-point conversion.
The first half turned into a running back duel between Favorite and St. John’s Christian Primeaux and Williams. Primeaux finished with 171 yards rushing and one touchdown. Williams rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
St. John took the game’s opening possession and drove 58 yards to the West St. John 14-yard line, but the drive ended when Rams cornerback Javen Toney intercepted quarterback Hunter Schnebelen in the end zone.
West St. John then responded with a six-play, 80-yard scoring to take a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Austin Howard rolled right and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Moll, who made the catch on his tiptoes just behind the pylon.
St. John led 7-6 in the first quarter when Primeaux ran untouched through the West St. John defense for a 17-yard TD run.
Favorite then scored two touchdowns to put West St. John in control. He ran through tacklers and spun of others, for a 63-yard touchdown run, which gave West St. John a 12-7 lead with 11:46 left in the second quarter.
Favorite increased the Rams’ lead to 18-7 when he darted up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown run with 3:29 remaining.
But St. John made the score 18-14 when Williams ran up the middle for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:02 left.
West St. John, behind 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns by Favorite, led 18-14 at halftime. Williams rushed for 98 yards and one touchdown in the first half. Primeaux rushed for 74 yards and one touchdown.