St. James’ playoff hopes dealt blow, fall 20-12 to Carver

Published 5:03 am Saturday, November 2, 2013

Contributing Writer

ST. JAMES – St. James and Carver both went into Friday night’s District 8-2A game needing a win to better their chances of making the playoffs.

Carver did what it needed to do, while St. James still needs to.

With clutch plays at opportune times, Carver escaped St. James with a 20-12 victory and is likely assured itself a spot in the playoffs with a record of 3-5, 3-3.

St. James, on the other hand, fell to 2-6, 3-4, and turned next week’s season-finale against Cohen a must-win scenario.

“We lose and the season’s over,” said St. James coach Dwain Jenkins. “Very disappointed in the way we played tonight. I just thought they played with a little more intensity and passion than we did. We just never got on track offensively. We were able to run the ball at times, but then when we had to have two yards on a big play, we couldn’t pick up anything. We had a wave of people in the backfield. We struggled in pass protection all night long. The only thing we had any success doing was running the football.”

Actually, neither team was particularly impressive on offense.

St. James rushed for 118 yards, led by D’Kwan Sandolph, who gained 87 yards while alternating at quarterback and running back and scored one touchdown. Lowell Narcisse, who has battled a back injury all season and did not start, passed for 32 yards on three completions. He ran for 11 yards and one touchdown.

Carver finished the game with 100 yards rushing. Rodney Major rushed for 89 yards on 21 carries;  Romalus Walker scored two rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Quinton Matthews completed 7 of 15 passes for 137 yards. The Rams turned the ball over on downs twice, punted twice and Matthews was intercepted once. But they also converted two huge fourth-downs in the game, one a 40-yard bomb from Matthews to Joseph that helped set up Walker’s first touchdown in the first quarter. The second was a 10-yard completion to Kendrick Day early in the fourth quarter, but the Rams failed to capitalize on that one.  Matthews also connected with Joseph on a 54-yard pass play that got the Rams to the St. James 23.

“It was a huge win,” said Carver coach Byron Addison. “We knew this game was going to put either one of us in the playoffs. We told that to our kids all week and they came out and executed. I’m proud of both teams. I’m just glad our guys came out with the win.”

“We expected it to be a hard-fought game,” Matthews said. “And it was. But we thought we would come out with the win.”

Narcisse put the Wildcats ahead in the final minute of the first quarter, capping a 61-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed.

But Carver answered that when Carlius Joseph returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Rams’ 2-point conversion also failed, leaving the game tied at 6 with 44 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Carver took the lead with 7:42 to play in the half when Walker scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 3-yard run.  Walker ran in for the 2-point conversion to give the Rams a 14-6 lead.

St. James, which deferred to the second half, started the third quarter with an 8-play, 57 yard drive directed by Sandolph. The senior ran on seven of the eight plays, including a 19-yard scamper for the score. The Wildcats failed to convert the 2-point try, leaving them trailing 14-12.

Carver put together an eight-play scoring drive late in the game, aided by St. James penalties. On fourt-and-4 at the Wildcats 10, Matthews threw incomplete to Day in the end zone, but the Wildcats were flagged for pass interference. Two plays later, Walker ran in from the 2. Despite three attempts thanks to penalties, the Rams could not convert the 2-point try.

Jenkins was hoping his team would find a little extra inspiration after getting a surprise visit from former Wildcat Corey Webster, now a New York Giants defensive back. During a visit home during his team’s bye week, Webster stopped by the school and met with the team.

“He really stressed some of the things that we’re doing off the field,” Jenkins said. “(That) you’re playing for this community and something bigger than yourself, and you have to take care of yourself in school if you want to continue to get better.”