St. Michael took advantage of shaky punts and won the turnover battle to pull away for a 38-20 District 6-4A victory over Belaire on Friday night at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.
The Warriors (2-5, 1-1 District 6-4A) took control before halftime after the special teams miscues and held off the Bengals’ best efforts in the second half.
“I’m just proud of my guys,” St. Michael coach Paul Varnado said. “We came out and played with intensity. We kept the intensity throughout the game, and we put ourselves in an opportunity for a chance to win.”
Through the first quarter, St. Michael led by just one point. But after back-to-back Belaire drives deep in their own territory, the Warriors took control following some shaky Bengal punts.
St. Michael started at the Belaire 45-yard line on its first scoring drive of the second quarter but faced a third-and-17 with a little more than two minutes to go in the half.
Then, Warriors quarterback Treylan Sibley lofted a pass toward the front corner of the end zone, and senior receiver Clarence McGarner hauled in a one-handed grab near the goal line, yielding a 34-yard score.
The Bengals (4-3, 0-2) regained possession, but the offense went backward, quickly exiting. Another poor punt set up a 25-yard touchdown toss from Sibley to junior receiver Kade Robillard for a 21-6 lead heading into halftime.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t make the plays when we should have made the plays,” Belaire coach Claude Coleman said. “Plain and simple.
“Now, you’re playing catch-up ball. When we got them in situations where we should have got them off the field, they made big plays.”
Things didn’t look much brighter for the Bengals as the second half began. The Warriors started off in solid field position again after McGarner returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Belaire 36-yard line.
On the fifth play of the ensuing, Sibley and McGarner hooked up for their second touchdown, a 10-yard pitch-and-catch off a screen pass. Sibley completed 11 of 18 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns.
“(Sibley) did very well,” Varnado said. “Across the board, our offensive guys came out with a better sense of urgency — making better blocks, making better reads on throws, making better blocks at receiver, better routes. Those things like that kind of help put us in a position where we can complete passes and make some runs.”
The Bengals wouldn’t go away quietly, though. Sandwiched between a 35-yard field goal from St. Michael’s Dwain Varisco, Belaire running back DaQuan Hicks notched two of his three touchdowns in the second half, helping close the deficit to 11 points.
But late in the fourth quarter, St. Michael defensive back Taylor Daniels intercepted Hicks on the Bengals’ second-to-last drive. Daniels returned the pick 34 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.