De’Andre Taylor isn’t the largest player on the St. Amant roster. But the 140-pound senior proved he could bounce off defenders. He also provided a pivotal bounce back.
After fumbling on a kickoff return that allowed Walker to tie the game, Taylor hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Cole Poirrier that helped the Gators secure a 28-15 victory in a nondistrict season opener played at Dutchtown Saturday night.
“It just feels so good to play because it had been so long,” Taylor said. “I knew we needed a play. I caught the ball and when I made my cut, I saw an opening.”
Taylor had three catches for 48 yards and two TDs, while Joshua Morrisse ran for a game-high 94 yards on 20 carries. Morrisse scored the final St. Amant touchdown on a 3-yard run with 4:12 remaining.
“There are things we need to clean up … but you know what, we found somebody who would play us and we got to play,” SAHS coach David Oliver said. “I’m proud of (Taylor). He made a mistake and did not get down on himself. He came back and made another key play for us.”
Walker’s Hunter Bethel won the battle of veteran quarterbacks, completing 19 of 26 passes for 213 yards and two TDs. St. Amant’s Cole Poirrier was 11 of 18 for 155 yards with two TDs, but also was intercepted twice.
It had been three weeks since St. Amant (1-0) had played and two for Walker (0-1) after Hurricane Ida.
“I thought our defense really kept us going, especially in the first half,” Walker coach Chad Mahaffey said. “There are definitely some plays we would like to have back. But those turnovers help save us.”
The Gators scored the only points of the first half on their first possession. Poirrier tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Taylor with 6:33 to go in the first quarter.
Walker held St. Amant in check after that, thanks in part of interceptions by Patrick McKenzie and Carson Rocker. The interception by Rocker snuffed out a 13-play Gator drive at the WHS 2.
Taylor’s fumble set up a 25-yard Bethel to Jarvis Patterson TD play less than a minute into the second half. Taylor’s second TD catch put the Gators ahead for good almost seven minutes later.
Tre’Shawn Dunn added a 70-yard punt return for a score at the 1:55 mark to give the Gators an added cushion. Bethel responded with another big play — a 29-yard TD pass to Jacory Thomas to cap a 13-play WHS drive with 8:32 to go.
It was 21-15 SAHS before Morrisse carried four times to power the final Gator drive.
“We shot ourselves in the foot several times,” Walker’s Mahaffey said. “But I also saw guys do good things we can build on. We’ve got to get back to work.”