West St. John’s defense hangs on for tie

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

RESERVE — The West St John Rams went home with a 14-14 tie against the Amite Warriors who were dogged by undisciplined play and penalties all night during Thursday’s jamboree game.

Amite, which finished last year in the 3A state finals, came out quick, scoring a touchdown on it’s opening possession that after the Warriors converted on two long third downs before running in a 10-yard touchdown. With a failed two-point conversion the Warriors came out to a 6-0 lead early.

The Rams struggled on offense until the last minute of the first half. Safety Jamal Walters lined up at wide receiver, picked up a pass on a post pattern and shook a few tackles before being taken down for a 27-yard gain. A combination of penalties by the Amite Warriors, including two personal fouls, one pass interference and an offside penalty, helped the Rams drive to the three-yard line, where quarterback Jemoine Green found wide receiver Jabari Walters for a touchdown. The Rams led 7-6 with the extra point. With less than a half minute to go, the Rams kicked off out of bounds, giving Amite the ball at it’s own 40-yard line. The Warriors lofted a 34-yard pass, taking them down to the three-yard-line. With only 2.7 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts, Amite hurried back to the ball and connected on a short pass for a touchdown. A subsequent two-point conversion made the score 14-7.

To start off the second half of play, West St. John held Amite to a four and out. On defense, Amite gave up 20 yards off of penalties before Jabari Walters came down with an 11-yard pass to the one yard line and running back Austin Alexander, playing in place of starter Lamore Boudoin who was out with an injury, punched the ball in the end zone on the next play to bring the score to 14-14.

On the next series, a Rams freshman defensive tackle Horace Lewis got into the backfield and broke up a handoff, causing a fumble with the Rams recovering the ball.

The Rams defensive line was impressive all night with big plays from Lewis, sophomore defensive tackle Kelon Gardner, who notched a sack and big tackle for loss, as well as sophomore defensive end Covan Barnes, who came away with a sack. Senior defensive end Dauntae Gaudia also burst through into the backfield a number of times.

Despite not being able to gain traction on offense for much of the second half, the Rams defense mostly held tight against an aggressive Amite rushing attack. At one point, West St. John got the ball back and quarterback Juwan Boudoin arced a 38-yard pass down the sideline to Jabari Walters, but the Rams were forced to punt only a few plays later.

Amite took over on the next possession at its own 20-yard line and peeled off a series of long runs that ran most of the time off the clock and brought the Warriors all the way down to West St. John’s one-yard-line. The Rams were able to put together a goal line stand aided by several penalties on behalf of Amite that saw the Warriors pushed back to the 30-yard-line before turning the ball over on downs on fourth and 30.

West St. John head coach Brandon Walters said he was particularly pleased with his defense holding on and not letting the Warriors get the go ahead score when positioned on the goal line.

“We take pride at playing lights out defense,” Walters said. “We hang our hat on the defense and we are going to continue to get better at it and do what we have to do to give the offense good field position and make things happen for us.”

However, going into the season opener at home Friday against St. James, Walters said his team’s play will have to improve.

“I like what we did,” Walters said.

“We just have to get better for next week, clean up the mistakes and be more sound defensively and be able to execute better offensively.”