Istrouma High took some lumps while losing its first five games. The Indians proved it is never too late in the season to claim a signature win.

With running back Le’Veon Moss and quarterback Donald Crayton leading the way, Istrouma overwhelmed St. Michael 44-14 in a crucial District 7-4A game played Friday night at Istrouma.

“We took some tough losses,” Istrouma coach Jeremy Gradney said. “And it’s just my opinion, but I don’t think those losses told the story of this team. In all but two of the games, we beat ourselves. What we did tonight shows that we are capable of playing with anybody if we focus and do our job.”

Moss ran for 198 of his 200 yards in the first half and scored two touchdowns along with two 2-point conversion to help Istrouma (3-6, 3-1) move into a three-way tie for first in 7-4A with St. Michael and Plaquemine. Crayton completed 6 of 8 passes for 142 yards and three TDs for an Indian offense that piled up 441 yards.

Codi Williams led SMHS (5-4, 3-1) with 55 yards on seven carries, including a 37-yard TD run. St. Michael had won three straight. But the Warriors got caught flatfooted by Moss and the Indians in the first half.

In building a 30-7 halftime lead, Istrouma dominated time of possession 16:17 to 7:43 and outgained the Warriors 297 to 48. They scored on their first three possessions. It started with Moss gaining 34 yards on the game’s first scrimmage play.

“I want to thank my line for not giving up on me and waiting for me to make cuts,” Moss said. “They opened things up and I just ran.”

Moss later scored on a 14-yard run and ran for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 7:25 to go in the first quarter.

After three plays and a St. Michael punt, Moss struck again – this time on a 74-yard TD run. Crayton ran for the PAT to make it 16-0. Zar’Kevious Martin caught a 16-yard TD pass from Crayton to make it 22-0 with 8:04 remaining in the first half.

“That was the Moss show … he is tough,” St. Michael coach Joey Sanchez said. “We missed some blocks early and were never able to get going. Things multiplied from there. Istrouma did what we like to do, they had a good game plan and executed it.”

St. Michael struggled on offense and defense. The Warriors did not get a first down until the 3:44 mark in the second quarter. Williams scored on a 37-yard run for SMHS nine seconds later.

But the Indians scored again. Crayton ran 30 yards on a 2-for-25 play to put the ball in the red zone. He scored on an 11-yard run and ran for another two-point PAT at the 1:23 to go make it 30-7.

Crayton threw TD passes of 7 yards to Ty’Quan Stewart and 11 to Martin in the second half. The Istrouma defense ultimately held St. Michael to 87 yards.

“I love our defense. We try our best to set the tone,” defensive back Josh Kelly said. “This was big for us.”

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com