When Capitol and Istrouma combined to score three touchdowns in just more than a minute, it was obvious that the third game of East Baton Rouge Kickoff Classic jamboree was nothing like the first two.
So much was packed into Istrouma’s 29-20 come-from-behind victory Friday night at Broadmoor that it didn’t seem to matter that the game ended just after 11 p.m. — five hours after the three-game event began.
Funeral services for Istrouma Principal Reginald Douglas took place 12 hours earlier and the totality of the day was evident on the faces of coach Jeremy Gradney and sophomore running back Le’Veon Moss, who ran for 170 yards on seven carries and scored two touchdowns in the varsity debut for himself and the Indians.
“We talked about it before the game, and we expressed our feelings,” Moss said. “Mr. Doug (Douglas) respected us a lot, and we respected him a lot. So we came out and did our job for him. That’s what he would want us to do.”
The jamboree date was significant for the school and its alumni long before it became a day of tragedy and triumph. It was the night that many people, including Douglas, who died of natural causes last weekend, looked forward to ahead of a Sept. 6 home opener with Bogalusa.
Istrouma was shuttered as a low-performing school by Louisiana’s Recovery School District in 2014 and then reborn in 2017-18 in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System with a physical makeover and a bunch of new academic programs. And Douglas, a former Istrouma teacher and assistant coach, became its leader.
Things were carefully orchestrated, including two years of junior varsity sports, to allow for growth as one class of students was added each year. It was time to play in a varsity event. And to top it off, Istrouma was playing inner city rival Capitol.
“I knew it was going to be competitive because we’re in the same neighborhood,” Capitol coach Dorsett Buckels said. “I thought we played well and played hard and so did they. I knew they would come out with emotion and they did. We could have won the game, but tonight they made more plays.”
The Lions took the opening kickoff and scored on a 4-yard run by quarterback Colby Tucker. Istrouma’s Josh Kelly took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 6-6.
Tucker countered with a 65-yard TD pass to Bryan Foley and converted a two-point conversion to take a 14-6 lead that stood at halftime. Tucker was 4 of 9 for 107 yards and the TD, with Foley on the night.
The fireworks were not over. Moss scored on a 70-yard on the second play of the 12-minute second half. He also ran for the two-point conversion to tie it. The Indians got the ball right back on a turnover, and Ty’Quan Stewart scored on a 5-yard run. The two-point conversion gave Istrouma a 22-14 lead with 8:38 to go.
Cameren Williams’ fumble return got Capitol within two, at 22-20, with 4:11 remaining. Moss ran away from the Lions defense again, scoring on a 66-yard run to put the game away.
“Very tough … very tragic,” Gradney said. “Mr. Douglas is the one who set the foundation for the school. In remembrance of Reginald Douglas, we’re going to continue to try to do the best we can to make him proud.”