DENHAM SPRINGS — Denham Springs entered Friday night's home game against St. Amant winless in two games.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets trailed by 10.
Two late touchdown passes by Luke Lunsford — and a game-saving stand by the defense in the final minutes — allowed the Yellow Jackets to avoid digging a bigger early season hole as they escaped with a 17-13 win.
"We knew we were knocking on the door of being 0-3, and I think everybody stepped up and said we weren't going to let that happen," Lunsford said.
The victory over St. Amant (1-2) was reminiscent of ones the Yellow Jackets enjoyed late last season when rallying to make the Class 5A playoffs.
Lunsford finished 13 of 17 for 242 yards, doing his best work in the final 12 minutes.
First, he found Troy Golmond deep over the middle on fourth-and-10 from the St. Amant 25, resulting in Denham's first touchdown and making the deficit 13-10 with 10:16 remaining.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Lunsford began the ensuing possession with a long heave to Preston Holwager, who bounced off a defender near midfield and raced the rest of the 77 yards for Denham's first lead.
St. Amant drove inside the Yellow Jackets' 10-yard line before an interception by CJ Johnson allowed Denham to salt away victory.
Johnson had broken up a pass on the previous play.
"When we needed guys to step up and make plays, they made plays," Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said. "Players made plays. Period. End of story."
St. Amant quarterback Slade Zeppuhar, who split time with Cole Poirrier behind center, was perfect on seven attempts in the first half. He started the half with an 11-yard TD strike to Javin Augillard on third-and-10. He finished it with an 8-yard hook-up with Austin Bascom on third-and-goal.
Lunsford was on the mark early as well, but a pair of dropped passes forced Denham to settle for a Cameron Beall field goal on its only scoring drive of the first half.
But on a night when the Yellow Jackets were held to 52 yards rushing, they needed their senior quarterback to keep applying pressure to the St. Amant defense.
Meanwhile, a Denham Springs defense that sacked Zeppuhar and Poirrier four times held the Gators scoreless in the second half.
"I tell you what, they made a few more plays than we did in the second half," St. Amant coach David Oliver said. "It was close the whole way. We couldn't make a play when we needed to, and they made one more than we did."