Rebels pick up big homecoming victory over St. James, 29-19
Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2005
By BILLY GOMILA
RESERVE – Riverside picked up an incredibly important first district victory last night by defeating St. James 29-19 in the Rebels homecoming game.
A packed crowd sat through the chilly night and watched the Rebels (4-1, 1-0 in district 10-2A) make the most of a series of mistakes by the Wildcats then survive a fourth quarter rally by the visitors from Vacherie.
“We had a good week of preparation and I never doubted that we had a good chance to win this game,” said Riverside head coach Mickey Roussel.
The Rebels ripped off 21-straight points in the third quarter, starting with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Collin Yeargin on the opening possession.
St. James took the second half kickoff and drove to the Riverside 45 when Antonio Phillips dropped back to pass. While in the grasp of a Rebel defender he attempted to flip the ball to Luther Ambrose but instead found Yeargin, who sprinted straight to the endzone. The extra point gave Riverside a 15-7 lead.
The Wildcats followed up one turnover with another as Jason Zenon coughed up the ball, only to have Riverside’s Jarid Caesar lose the ball back to St. James. But after picking up a fourth and one at their own 18 the Wildcats fumbled again as Benny Gomez intercepted Phillips and returned the ball to the six-yard line, eventually setting up a one yard scoring run by Caesar.
A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff pinned St. James at their own 27, and a eight-yard punt followed a three and out to set up Riverside at the 35-yard line. After runs of 20 and 14 yards by Caesar and A.J. Delaneuville put the ball on the one, Caesar crashed in to give Riverside a 29-7 lead with 1:10 left in the third.
Zenon would spark the Wildcats back into the game on the following possession by returning the kickoff 95 yards for a score but dropped a pass on the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 29-13 with a minute left in the quarter.
As the final quarter opened Riverside shifted to a more conservative attack, but a holding penalty on their next possession put them in a hole and forced a punt, which only traveled to their own 46 in a swirling wind.
St. James was able to drive for their final touchdown on the next possession, with Ambrose scoring from a yard out with 6:48 to play.
“We got real conservative on offense and was trying to just get first downs,” said Roussel. “What hurt us was penalties. You can’t get in a first and 20 and be successful against anybody, much less St. James.”
Riverside went three and out on their next possession, but the Wildcats failed on a fourth and 16 at the Riverside 39, a play that was set up by an illegal substitution and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on head coach Rick Gaille.
The Wildcat defense forced a punt with 1:36 left on the following possession but Zenon muffed the punt, Riverside recovered and was able to run out the remaining time.
“Tonight was a great example of a team effort in mistake making,” said Gaille, whose team dropped to 3-2 on the year and 0-1 in district play. “We had them in all phases, including coaching – which I have to take responsibility for.”
Riverside struck first in the game shortly after taking the opening kickoff. Caesar would pace the Rebel offense again, squirting through the St. James front, cutting left and racing 80 yards to the Wildcat five on third and 16. The long run set up a 4-yard touchdown from the 5-8, 155-pound sophomore, who finished with 185 yards on the night.
St. James would get back in the game on Riverside’s next possession though, as Martrel Green sacked Delaneuville and forced a fumble that Nick Narcisse recovered at the Rebel 15. St. James drove down to the goal line, and on fourth and short Juarelle Narcisse plunged in for the tying touchdown.
But Riverside began to grab the momentum in the half’s final minute as linebacker Kevin Bourg tackled Phillips in the endzone for a safety with 1:03 left. St. James had been set up on their own three after a block in the back was called on the six on a punt return.
“We played against a good football team tonight,” said Gaille. “You can’t make those kind of errors against a good team, much less on in our district.”
Next up for the Rebels will be a road trip to Donaldsonville, while the Wildcats will prepare for homecoming against Washington-Marion.
“This was a great win,” said Roussel. “I’ll think about the district and all that tomorrow, but this was a must win that we needed. You have to get wins whenever you can.”