St. Amant’s defense showed out and clamped down in the second half of the Gators’ 24-17 win over district rival Dutchtown.

St. Amant safety Jacob Matthews intercepted Dutchtown’s Dre Malone’s fourth-and-28 pass with a little over a minute left, and all that was left for a St. Amant victory was to run out of the clock. On first down, however, standout K.J. Franklin had the ball knocked out of his hands by Dutchtown’s Shane Levy, who recovered the fumble at St. Amant’s 41.

Malone had one more opportunity to tie the game at 24, but the Gators defense held once again.

“Great defensive performance. I thought they did a tremendous job managing the game in tight situations,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “A lot of fight in that Dutchtown team. A lot of fight from the Gators in response — a tight game all the way.”

Franklin got it going early for St. Amant (5-2, 1-1 district 5-5A) on offense. On the Gators' first possession, Franklin rushed six times for 53 yards and a touchdown for a 7-0 St. Amant advantage.

The lead didn’t last for long. Dutchtown dialed up a trick play on the first snap from scrimmage following Franklin’s touchdown. Malone threw a backward lateral that was disguised as a wide receiver screen to left-handed quarterback Grant Arnett, who quickly chucked it deep to a streaking Jadyn McKinney for a 56-yard touchdown.

St. Amant quarterback Lathan Bourgeois moved the Gators quickly down the field on 4-of-6 passing for 36 yards, half of which came on an 18-yard pass to Franklin, who finished with 79 yards rushing and 80 yards receiving. Matthew Parker converted his lone field-goal attempt once the drive stalled.

Then late in the second quarter, a bad snap went past Malone and was recovered by St. Amant at the Griffin 30. Quarterback Kaleb Thompson scored on a 9-yard run four plays later to extend St. Amant’s lead to 17-7 with less than a minute to go in the second quarter.

However, Dutchtown didn’t go in to half time quietly. Running back Blayden Louis broke free down the right side of the field for 55 of his 75 yards to the 5-yard line with 9.8 seconds remaining. On the ensuing play, Malone attempted an out route to McKinney. The ball bounced off his hands and into the arms of wide receiver Terry Matthews 5 yards deep in the end zone to cut the lead to 17-14.

But that wasn’t the end of the craziness in the first half.

St. Amant recovered a squib kick at the Dutchtown 48 and a had a chance for one last pass before halftime. They called on Bourgeois, who alternated series with Thompson throughout the game, and he launched a ball to wide receiver Darius Smith who caught the ball but was ruled down at the 1 by the referees.

The two teams each scored in the third quarter, but the game became a defensive slugfest in the fourth quarter.

Dutchtown’s offense was limited in second half when Malone aggravated an ankle injury that kept him out of previous games.

“He wasn’t able to run in the second half,” Dutchtown coach Guy Mistretta said. “There were some reads where he could’ve pulled it, and he was hobbled. We have to get him back healthy for next week.”