Comets convert win over rival Rebels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2010

LAPLACE – Riverside snatched the momentum headed into halftime of its district and rivalry showdown with St. Charles Catholic.

Then the Comets snatched it right back.

St. Charles outscored Riverside 21-7 in the second half en route to a 35-21 win at Thomas Dupuy Stadium.

“It’s a huge win for the kids,” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica. “Now, this week during practice, I think our kids were trying to talk themselves into thinking they were ready. But I didn’t see it. We got up 14-0 and I felt we allowed ourselves to get a bit complacent.

“But in the third quarter, I saw our players start to play with a sense of urgency. They showed some resiliency.”

Riverside (5-2, 2-2) rallied from a 14-0 deficit to score twice in the last 4:05 of the first half and tie the score going into halftime.

The Rebels received and drove into SCC territory in eight plays. But on that eighth play, quarterback Darnell Rachal picked up a first down on a run but fumbled. Macky Cortez recovered and SCC took over at its own 38.

The Comets (7-0, 4-0) then took the lead on what would be the first of two major third down miscues for Riverside. On third and six from the Rebel 41, Donnie Savoie heaved a pass deep down the sideline intended for Jeffrey Hall into coverage. But what looked like a likely interception was hauled in by Hall in between defenders, and he pulled away from the crowd to race for a 41-yard score.

“We practice the jump ball all week,” said Hall. “Coach tells us we have to come down with it, and I did what I had to.”

Riverside again received the ensuing kickoff and drove down the field into Comet territory. But on a third and 18 play, the opportunistic St. Charles defense again forced a fumble against a scrambling Rachal and took over at the SCC 48.

It was on this possession that SCC called upon Marcus Hall to make perhaps the night’s signature play. After two penalties and a blown reverse play that netted minus-11 yards, the Comets faced third and 35 from their own 23.

But lining up in the Wildcat, Hall faked to set up for a pass, then raced through the middle of the line. He’d reach the open field, make a move, and jet for 46 yards and the first down conversion. Six plays later, Lazedrick Thompson finished things off with a 5-yard touchdown score with 8:54 left in the game.

“It was remarkable,” said Monica. “But Marcus does that a lot when he gets into the open field.”

SCC put on the finishing touches courtesy of Brady Hitt, who intercepted a Rachal pass at midfield and cut up the sideline for a touchdown with 4:49 left to play.

St. Charles scored on each of its first two possessions. The first came at 8:52 of the first quarter on a Marcus Hall 12-yard toss play, capping a six-play drive.

The second score came after just four plays and 53 yards thanks to a 39-yard Thompson rumble — he appeared to be stacked up by the Rebel defense, then broke through into open field.

“It’s good to have them both,” said Monica of his pair of running backs. “(Hall) looked like he was a little beat up tonight, and didn’t have that usual explosiveness. But we have two guys that can do the job, a bigger, stronger guy and a quicker, speedy guy. It’s Superman and Spider Man.”

But Rachal made some magic happen of his own to bring Riverside back. Facing a third and 3 from the SCC 41, Rachal seemed to be corralled for a loss in the backfield, but escaped a tackle and made multiple defenders miss on his way to a 9-yard run. The play extended a drive that resulted in a 12-yard Thomas Crouch touchdown run.

“It was something of a turning point. But (Rachal) does that to everyone,” said Monica. “He’s that kind of a quality player.”

The Rebels forced a stop and then drove 70-yards in six plays, Rachal factoring in each one. He completed two passes for a total of 36 yards to Dylan Martin on the drive and tallied 32 yards rushing of his own, the last nine coming on a game-tying touchdown run.