ST. JAMES — It was ugly, but St. James will take it.
In a sloppy, error-prone game in which the two teams combined for 19 penalties, St. James (2-0) held off parish neighbor Lutcher (0-2) for a razor-thin 13-7 win in front of a crowd of thousands who packed into St. James’ stadium for one of the Baton Rouge area’s fiercest rivalries.
“In this rivalry, against those people, I’ll take it how I can get it,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said with a grin. “I said it last week, I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.”
The contest went down to the wire. Trailing 13-7 late, the Bulldogs (0-2) twice had chances in the fourth quarter to march down the field and take the lead.
In that first chance, Lutcher took over with 5:42 in the game. But on the first play of the drive, Bulldog quarterback Kolby Bourgeois threw an interception that landed right in Wildcat defensive back Glen Brown’s hands near midfield.
From there, St. James bled out most of the clock with 10 straight runs for 30 yards before trying a 28-yard field goal. Wildcat kicker Alec Mahler’s attempt sailed wide right, giving the Bulldogs one more chance with 19 seconds remaining.
But Lutcher, stuck at its own 20-yard line, didn’t muster enough offense to make it past midfield, and the clock ran out.
“We made too many mistakes,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said, noting that penalties killed a number of the Bulldogs’ drives. “Some of these guys are playing varsity football for the first time. …We’ve just got to find a way to make those plays.”
Brown proved to be the difference for the Wildcats.
In addition to the key pick, the senior scored the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter. The Wildcats blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by the Bulldogs, and Brown scooped it up and ran it back 84 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“Glen did a phenomenal job,” Valdez said. “Glen’s a special type of athlete that we’ve been waiting on that guy to just keep coming around. I’m just so happy for him. He’s worked so hard.”
St. James padded its score in the second quarter to 13-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Demarcus Williams. The Wildcats’ ensuing PAT sailed wide left.
Lutcher responded in the third quarter with its first touchdown of the night via a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Daveon Adams, who ran for 19 yards one play earlier to set up the score.