St. James rolls over Rams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002


ST. JAMES – Credit for the St. James Wildcats’ win over the visiting West St. John Rams by a 28-12 score Friday night went directly to the drive and determination of the home team.

“We didn’t quit when we could’ve quit,” Coach Rick Gaille commented after the game. “Even after the slow start and the errors in the beginning, they kept playing and kept playing.”

There were plenty of turnovers to keep the game hopping all evening. The first quarter, in fact, had West St. John recovering a St. James fumble which launched their first threatening drive.

Rams quarterback Randall Nicholson fought the high winds which blew in his face all first half, which contributed to a 20-yard pass to Thomas Augusta in the end zone flitting just beyond his fingertips.

St. James took over on downs but struggled vainly for a first down, then punted to their own 47-yard line with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter.

Nicholson powered the Rams offense down field in an 80-yard, six-play scoring drive.

Once West St. John got into the red zone, Nicholson stayed with Initius Howard for four plays, and Howard scored from one yard out with five minutes left in the first period. A two-point conversion pass missed and West St. John led the game 6-0.

St. James’s possession led them from their own 35 after the kickoff to the West St. John 46-yard line before the Wildcats punted into the wind and the ball was nailed down at the Rams 35. West St. John struggled with their next possession as well, coughing up the ball on downs after 30 yards of penetration.

St. James then began their first scoring drive, of a sort. After nine yards of struggle, they punted. However, a holding call on the Rams gave the ball right back to the Wildcats with a first in 10 at the St. James 49-yard line.

The Wildcats then pushed and struggled to the West St. John 24 before a roughing the kicker call on the punt again awarded the ball back to St. James at their own 41-yard line.

From there, on the next play, Blake Falgoust connected with Donavan Williams for the touchdown score with 8:04 remaining in the second quarter. Melvin Dumas’s PAT kick was good for the go-ahead point, and St. James led 7-6.

Things went from bad to worse for the visiting Rams during the kickoff when their receiver fumbled and Williams recovered the loose ball, giving St. James a head-up and poised to score again from the Ram 13-yard line.

Even so, it took three plays before St. James punched it in from seven yards out, as Dumas rumbled in with 6:46 on the clock. Dumas’s PAT was good, and St. James extended their lead to 14-6.

The Wildcats were feeling their momentum, and West St. John felt the heat from the St. James defense, which held them inside the 30-yard line, forcing the Rams to cough up on downs with 4:54 remaining in the half.

This time, it took four plays before David Johnson scored from 12 yards out off the pass from Falgoust with 3:12 remaining. Dumas nailed the PAT, and St. James edged away with a 21-6 lead going into the second half.

West St. John accepted the second-half opening kickoff and proceeded to give it up on a fumble in the second play from scrimmage at their own 23-yard line. Two plays later, Donavan Williams swept right and into the end zone, virtually untouched, to push the Wildcat lead to 28-6 with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter.

The rest of the period went scoreless, highlighted only by three more fumbles. The last one, however, with 14 seconds remaining, put the ball in the hands of the Rams at the St. James 31-yard line.

Two plays later, a face-mask penalty on the Wildcats further teased the Rams fans to the St. James 10-yard stripe. Again, the Wildcats miscued and a pass-interference call nudged the ball down to the St. James three-yard line.

From there, Patrick Jackson punched in the touchdown for West St. John with 11:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion try failed, and the Rams had edged up to trail 28-12.

This turned out to be the final score, with the remainder of the game highlighted by two interceptions, one by each team. The first, by Jontrell Phillip, stalled a West St. John drive at the Wildcat 17-yard line. The second by Juanquious Jasmin, stalled the St. James drive at the Rams 19-yard line with 57 second remaining in the game.

Gaille told his players after a cooler of ice was dumped on his head, “I will take this 15 games this year,” to the accompanying cheers of the team.

He congratulated the players for believing in each other and in themselves, but cautioned (because of all the mental mistakes ) “We can get a whole lot better.”

Gaille also said of next week’s opponent, the East St. John Wildcats, “I know the players will turn up and play real hard and it’ll be a good game.”

That game will be at East St. John this Friday.