ST. AMANT — Some college football coaches roll the dice, electing to try a 2-point conversion to win the game, rather than kicking an extra point to tie.
Everet Fekete, the coach of the Lake Elementary School Lions, flipped the script last week. When the Lions scored in the fourth quarter to tie Prairieville Middle School at 14, Fekete called on his kicker to win the game — a sight usually unseen in middle school football.
Ivan Prejean delivered, booting the ball through the uprights to give the Lions a one-point win, their first of the season.
“We’ve been practicing it since August, and it’s the first time we used it,” Fekete said.
Lake (1-3) took an early lead, taking the opening kickoff and marching 50 yards to score just its second touchdown of the season. Quarterback Collan Ortego connected with Prejean for a 39-yard pass, and tailback C.J. Sullivan sliced his way to a 19-yard touchdown run on the next play. Ortego then found Prejean in the end zone on the 2-point conversion to give the Lions an 8-0 lead.
Prairieville, which suffered its first loss of the season to fall to 3-1, bounced right back, though. The Panthers recovered a Lake fumble late in the first quarter and then went 40 yards on six plays, highlighted by a 15-yard run by quarterback Cameron Crawford and a 15-yard touchdown run by tailback Ricky Martinez. Crawford ran in the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 8.
The Panthers took the lead on their next possession, when Crawford ran five yards up the middle on fourth down on the final play of the first half to put Prairieville on top, 14-8.
The score stayed the same until the fourth quarter, when Crawford connected with Sullivan on a 34-yard touchdown pass to cap an 88-yard drive. Prejean’s point-after touchdown kick gave the Lions the lead, and Lake’s defense made it stand when Billy Simoneaux intercepted a fourth-down desperation pass with 1:25 left in the game.
Ortego threw for 104 yards and a touchdown on 3-of-9 passing, while Sullivan finished the game with 94 combined yards rushing and receiving.
“He’s a tough running back with good speed,” Fekete said of Sullivan. “He’s our workhorse.”
Crawford and Martinez performed the heavy lifting for the Panthers, as the quarterback-tailback duo combined for 128 yards rushing on 32 carries.
Prairieville coach Brad Stutzman, a former assistant of Fekete’s, said the better team Sept. 27 won the game.
“They deserved to win,” Stutzman said. “He’s an awesome coach, very experienced. He knows how to win with what he’s given. They deserved to win today.”
Fekete said his team had played well in the first three weeks of the season, losing to the three remaining undefeated teams in the league, but he’s hopeful the Lions’ first win will build momentum over the final three weeks of the season.
“It feels very good. I’m glad for (the players),” he said. “ Winning or losing both become a habit, and we wanted to break that habit.”