VACHERIE — The St. James Wildcats rebounded quite well from their first loss in two seasons with a dominant 44-0 win over the Assumption Mustangs on Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
The St. James defense stifled the Mustangs, holding them to 1 yard of offense and allowing just four first downs.
St. James (2-1) lost by 19 to Destrehan last week — their first loss since the second round of the 2018 playoffs — but they were determined not to suffer a second straight defeat.
“We had a bad taste in our mouth after last week,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said. “We have a word of the week, and this week it was ‘humility.’ The guys were humbled by their loss and we got back to work and got back to basics. I told them to play fast and have fun, and I think we did that.”
The Wildcats held Assumption (1-2) to minus-20 yards in the first half, while gaining 210 themselves, and raced to a 30-0 halftime lead.
St. James senior Joel Cooper made an interception on the second play of the game and returned it to the Mustangs 31-yard line. Four plays later, Kaden Williams scored from 7 yards out to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead just 1:48 into the game.
St. James picked off three Sage Rivere passes in the first half, including two by senior J’Korey Ester. Rivere completed only 7 of 22 passes.
Wildcat quarterback Marquell Bergeron completed 15 of 26 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
How it was won
The Wildcats blew open the game in the second quarter by scoring 23 points in the final 7:38 of the period.
Shazz Preston caught a 21-yard pass from Bergeron to make it 13-0. After a three-and-out by the Mustangs, St. James scored two minutes later on Williams’ second touchdown of the night.
Rivere’s third interception of the night on the next drive led to an Alec Mahler 37-yard field goal, and a bad snap on an Assumption punt led to a 23-yard pass from Bergeron to Preston on the final play of the half.
Player of the game
Shazz Preston, St. James
Preston finished with five catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in the second-quarter onslaught.
They said it
Assumption coach Keith Menard: “We thought we could run the ball, but we didn’t do that, and we didn’t pass well either. I thought our defense played well early, but when you keep putting them out there against an athletic ballclub, they will eventually make plays on your defense.”
• St. James has not lost consecutive games since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2016 season. The Wildcats had won 16 straight.
• St. James gave the Mustangs their only regular-season loss last year (35-7).