Wildcats’ backs to wall after loss to Port Allen

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 28, 2009



It was a script all too familiar to St. James coach Rick Gaille. His St. James Wildcats take control early, but lose momentum late in the first half…and eventually, the game itself.

Port Allen’s L.J. Parker ran for 255 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Pelicans over the Wildcats, 20-13, in a District 8-3A loss at Port Allen on Friday night.

“If you give a team with big play skill guys, like Port Allen has, any momentum…they’ll fight you to the end. And they were tough to deal with,” said St. James coach Rick Gaille.

“It’s a familar thing this season. We go up and let someone back in. And we just can’t seem to recover when that happens.”

The loss was St. James’ first in district this season. The Wildcats can still clinch a share of the district championship, however, with a win over Plaquemine on Friday.

St. James (2-6, 2-1) controlled the ball for most of the first half while building a 13-0 lead, each coming on the back of a long drive. St. James ran 30 plays to just 10 for Port Allen before halftime.

SJH opened up the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run from Lester Verret that capped off a 17-play, 80-yard drive.

The second drive was just about as time consuming, a 12-play, 59-yard drive finished off by a 3-yard Roman Broden run. That made it 13-0 with just 50 seconds left in the half.

But 50 seconds was all the Pelicans would need to swing momentum back in their favor. First, Parker broke loose down the sideline for a 47-yard score on an option run, making it 13-7 at halftime.

Then Port Allen (5-3, 2-1) took the lead in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Parker that was set up by a 62-yard sprint by Ricky Merritt.

“For just a few plays, we lost our defensive integrity,” said Gaille. “It’s all it took.”

It seemed to take the wind out of the sails of St. James, which would remain scoreless the rest of the way.

“This team just hasn’t been tough enough to push back after losing momentum,” said Gaille. “We talk about consistency every week, but we haven’t been able to put these bad plays behind us.”

With 1:20 left in the game, Parker scored for the third time, this time on a 40-yard run — to make it 20-13. Port Allen missed the extra point.

Gaille noted that Parker had a little bit of help this time from his Wildcats, who needed to get possession of the ball back.

“We told the defense to let them score there,” he said. “We wanted a chance to come back and tie, as opposed to them just running the clock down and out.”

St. James rallied to midfield, but a sack on fourth down with 15 seconds left clinched the win for Port Allen.

Verrett led St. James with 20 carries for 114 yards.

Quarterback Antoine Landry was stifled by the Pelican defense, completing just two-of-eight passes for 15 yards and two interceptions.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board for the Wildcats, with a big game on Friday night to determine the team’s playoff destiny.

“Even after all these trials and tribulations, our fate is still in our hands,” said Gaille.