GONZALES — St. Amant Middle School led by eight points with less than a minute to play in the first half during its game at Central Middle last week.
Two interceptions in the span of 18 seconds helped the Wildcats put the game out of reach.
Garrett Rachal picked off a pass by Central Middle halfback Garrett Davis on a trick play by the Mustangs, and Rachal returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with 49 seconds left in the half to put the Wildcats up 15-0. On Central’s next offensive play, Briggs Bourgeois intercepted Central quarterback Grant Richardson, setting up another Wildcats touchdown.
St. Amant quarterback Hayden Mallory connected with Bourgeois on a 40-yard touchdown pass on the next play, giving the Wildcats a 22-0 lead. They went on to defeat Central 22-6, improving to 3-0 on the season.
“We tried to be aggressive, and it kind of backfired on us,” Central coach Matt Lambert said. “You figure you’re down and you try to make some things happen.”
It was the second week in a row the Mustangs had thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half, he said.
St. Amant interim coach Chad Wilson, who is filling in after Keith Lavigne had double-bypass heart surgery, praised his defense’s performance. The Wildcats held Central scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.
“Our whole objective in this game was to play St. Amant Middle School football — methodically push the ball down the field and make big plays,” Wilson said.
The Wildcats went up 8-0 late in the first quarter on a Blake Felps 10-yard touchdown run. Mallory completed a pass to Felps for the 2-point conversion.
After Rachal’s interception return and Mallory’s touchdown pass to Bourgeois, Central’s defense didn’t allow another score, holding the Wildcats to a missed field goal attempt on the opening drive of the second half.
Felps rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown, Mallory added 44 yards on six carries, and the trio of Garrett Stephens, Jacob Cheatwood and Rachal combined for 60 rushing yards as St. Amant finished the game with 158 yards on the ground and 45 yards passing.
Josh Dunn led Central’s offense with 77 yards rushing on eight carries, while Davis added 51 yards on 10 carries. Dunn wrapped up an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the game clock when he scored on a 5-yard sweep to the right side of the field with 2:09 left in the game.
Dunn ripped off runs of 11, 14 and 17 yards on the drive, while Davis had a 24-yard run down to the St. Amant 5-yard line that set up Dunn’s touchdown.
Despite his team falling to 0-3 on the season, Lambert said he was proud of the Mustangs’ effort in the loss.
“They played hard the whole game,” he said. “They certainly gave a lot of effort. When bad things happen, you’ve got to keep it together.”