GONZALES — On the game’s first play Friday, East Ascension defensive back Jacquel Jacobs jumped a 15-yard back-shoulder pass thrown by St. Amant star quarterback Hayden Mallory as if Jacobs had seen it before.
And maybe it’s because he had.
“I knew they liked throwing that back shoulder pass to (Larson Fontenot), so I anticipated it and got over the top of it,” said Jacobs, drawing from experience from a previous meeting with St. Amant in the jamboree. “And when he threw it, I just went and got the ball.”
Jacobs picked it off and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for an upset in the 32nd edition of Ascension Parish’s premier rivalry, as the Spartans frustrated Mallory and previously unbeaten St. Amant 31-10 at Spartan Stadium.
East Ascension, familiar with their archrivals from the other side of Airline Highway from 30 years of slugfests, and more importantly, from a previous meeting this season in a jamboree, evened the all-time series at 16.
Mallory, who, entered the night second in the state with 1,609 passing yards, finished 14 of 29 for just 112 yards and four interceptions, three by Jacobs, as the offense of the Gators (6-1, 1-1), could never get going.
“Give them credit,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “They played good. They had a good game plan, and they made the fewest mistakes.”
In a defensive slugfest, where both teams had success taking out the opponents’ offensive strength, it was East Ascension (3-4, 1-1) that got its offense going. The Spartans clung to a 7-3 halftime lead as their offense could not get out of neutral either.
But with the EA defense continuing to hold down the Gators’ passing offense in the second half, the Spartans running game wore down a St. Amant defense that had played well. After holding the Spartans to 42 rushing yards at halftime, East Ascension finished with 262 yards, all on the ground.
Running back Joshua Bates led the way with 160 yards on 14 carries, including runs of 74 and 55 yards that set up two of quarterback/running back Kyran Irvin’s three touchdown runs.
“I don’t know if we ever really got our running back going so much as Joshua Bates made a couple of great cuts (on the long runs),” East Ascension coach Paul Bourgeois said. “Those were huge.”
Irvin, who played mostly at quarterback, but also played tailback some, added 101 yards on 21 carries, helping make up for the the Spartans 0-of-11 passing on 11 tries.
But the big story was St. Amant’s passing frustrations. Mallory completed 15 of 21 passes for 204 yards in EA’s 21-14 win over St. Amant in the LeBlanc Food Stores Jamboree, a game where East Ascension learned a few things about defending the high-powered Gators after Mallory enjoyed much success in trying to rally the Gators from a 21-0 second-half deficit.
“The biggest thing is how well (Mallory) did against us in the second half of the jamboree,” Bourgeois said. “We had to work very hard, and he put a scare in us to know that, if he got that going, we were going to be in trouble.”
Jacobs let it be known on the first play that Mallory wouldn’t get it going again.