ST. AMANT — In a game featuring stout defensive play and plenty of penalties, St. Amant Middle School interim coach Chad Wilson knew he needed to get creative to spark his offense.
After the Wildcats blocked a punt to set them up at Gonzales Middle School’s 27-yard line in the third quarter, with his team trailing 6-0, Wilson called for a trick play — a reverse toss sweep pass.
Wilson sent backup quarterback Brooks Grenfell into the game and moved starting quarterback Hayden Mallory to wingback. Grenfell tossed the ball to Mallory, who handed the ball off to a receiver on what looked like a reverse play. However, the receiver tossed the ball back to Grenfell on a flea flicker, and Grenfell found a wide-open Mallory for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
As the Wildcats celebrated the game-tying score, and the St. Amant coaches pondered what play to run for the 2-point conversion to take the lead, they noticed the one thing they didn’t want to see — a dreaded yellow flag.
St. Amant was called for holding on the play, negating the touchdown.
“It was wide open,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, we got called for holding on the seal block.”
Gonzales, which limited St. Amant to just 82 yards of offense, held the Wildcats to one first down the rest of the contest and intercepted Mallory’s desperation heave toward the end zone with 14 seconds left in the game to pull off the win between the two undefeated teams.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 with games against Prairieville and Galvez remaining, while St. Amant dropped to 4-1 on the season.
Wilson said the difference in the game was how aggressive Gonzales played on defense.
“You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit,” he said. “They get after it. Everybody flies to the football. They have a super defense.”
Two players stepped up at a key time early in the fourth quarter when it appeared St. Amant might be building some offensive momentum. After the Wildcats drove inside the Gonzales 30-yard line, Kobe Haynes broke through to sniff out a sweep for a 4-yard loss.
Two plays later, Darrion Morris sacked Mallory, knocking the Wildcats back to the 40-yard line and forcing a punt.
Gonzales quarterback Keenen Dunn and running back Justin Daniels, who combined for 65 yards rushing in the game, were able to run out most of the clock in the fourth quarter.
Although the contest featured little offense, the difference was one big play, as Dunn hooked up with wide receiver Kaye Ruiffin on a 60-yard scoring pass late in the second quarter for the game’s only score.
Gonzales coach Ruben Ruiz said his team’s offense “never really got it together” and that he expected more scoring in the game. Wilson, however, said the low-scoring affair was “exactly what I thought it would be.”
With just two games remaining, Gonzales now controls its destiny and could face an undefeated Galvez in a week 7 showdown for the league championship.
“Every year, we said that this road to the championship goes through Galvez, but we aren’t looking past Prairieville,” Ruiz said. “This league is much tighter than it’s been in the past. There’s a lot of competition.”
Wilson hopes that competition helps keep his team motivated, knowing that one slip up could lead to a three-way tie for the title. The Wildcats face Galvez on Thursday.
A victory in that game, and then a Galvez win over Gonzales next week, is the scenario Wilson is hoping to see.
“One thing about our guys is they don’t give up,” Wilson said. “We may need a couple of guys to help us out, but we are not out of the hunt.”
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