ST. AMANT — There were too many penalties and too many turnovers, but St. Amant’s pit crew came to the rescue Friday night.
The St. Amant defense kept McKinley from putting together a sustained drive all game long, and the Gators squeezed out enough offense to throttle the Panthers 37-8 at The Pit.
“They call themselves the ‘Pit Crew,’ and they’ve done a tremendous job all season at setting the tone. They did it tonight,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said after the Gators improved to 6-0, 1-0 in District 5-5A. “They played great defense all night long and set us up with great field position.”
St. Amant built a 20-0 halftime lead and stretched it to 34-8 after three quarters. McKinley was mired in its own end most of the game and only crossed midfield twice.
St. Amant lost four fumbles and was penalized 11 times for 90 yards. Special teams helped the Gators recover. Punter Beau Trabeau averaged 40 yards, including one that led to a defensive touchdown after going out of bounds at the 1.
Do-it-all receiver Briggs Bourgeois caught eight passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He also kicked field goals of 48, 25 and 22 yards.
Quarterback Hayden Mallory helped the Gators get just enough out of their offense. Mallory was 19-of-37 for 309 yards with three touchdowns.
McKinley (2-4, 0-1) was only able to manage Lil John Lewis’ 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Panthers were forced to abandon the run in the second half and never established an offensive rhythm.
“We need to be more consistent,” McKinley coach Robert Signater said. “The defense gave a good effort. I don’t think the score is indicative of how hard we played. They were the better team tonight.”
After moving the ball on the opening possession, McKinley struggled to gain yards the rest of the first half. But the Panthers defense was stingy and forced three turnovers.
St. Amant started with a 55-yard drive for its first score. The Gators used nine plays in the series with highlights from four Mallory completions. Mallory found Nathan Taylor on fourth-and-1 for a 10-yard touchdown.
Late in the quarter, Gators punter Beau Trabeau put his kick out at the MHS 1. Two plays later, quarterback Brian Lee fumbled as he was hit in the end zone. Lineman Elliot Turner plucked the ball in midair for the second St. Amant score. Bourgeois’ extra point made it 13-0.
A busted coverage by the Panthers secondary helped St. Amant extend its lead to 20-0 in the second quarter. From the SA 27, Mallory found Bourgeois all alone at midfield. Bourgeois made a move at the MHS 40 before racing in for the score.
The Gators had chances to extend their led before halftime but lost three fumbles in McKinley territory. The third fumble came with less than a minute in the half when Taylor fumbled at the MHS 3.
For the half, St. Amant gained 228 yards on 29 plays. McKinley ran 31 plays to gain 67 yards.