By Trent Friedel
Saint Mary’s football team traveled to Shreveport to face the Loyola Flyers on Friday night. The 3A flyers were looking for a homecoming victory after a loss last week to Calvary Baptist. The Tigers were planning to be the spoiler of homecoming for the second time in; as they did just that two years ago. Saint Mary’s rolled into town after an impressive 56-6 victory the previous week against district foe Montgomery. The Tigers knew this was going to be a tough matchup and spent many hours in preparation. Head coach Corwyn Aldredge was anticipating solid play from his team and stated, “This is probably the best week of practice we have had all season to this point.”
The Tigers won the flip of the coin and elected to receive the ball to start the game. They wasted no time orchestrating a drive to put points on the board. Luke Gallien took in the opening kick and the Tigers started on their own 27. Saint Mary’s takes the ball down to the 10 of the Flyers but can not put it in the end zone. They use 14 plays that were a good combination of pass and run and commit one penalty in the drive. The Tigers scored first on a 23-yard field goal by Bankston. SMH 3 – Flyers 0. I can’t recall the last time Saint Mary’s has kicked a field goal, but it came at a great time.
Loyola takes over at their 35 after the kick went out of bounds. On the second play QB Allen connects with #7 John Williams on a quick slant. Williams shows his explosive speed running 48 yards to the Tiger 17. The Tiger defense then digs their claws into the dirt and stiffen to stop the Flyer attack. Loyola attempts a 34-yard field goal but is called for illegal procedure. After the penalty, the kick is attempted from 39 yards and is not successful. Saint Mary’s takes over at their 20. Second play has Howell run off tackle for nearly 30 yards into Loyola territory. Howell completes a pass to Bienvenu over the middle and he gets a great downfield block from Gallien that springs him to the Flyer 9, first and goal to go. Bailey Shelton does the rest and runs in from 5 yards out for the score. The PAT is good by Bankston, SMH 10 – Loyola 0 with just under 3 minutes to play in the first quarter.
John Williams returns the ensuing kick to just over midfield. On the first play from scrimmage Allen hands off to the big and powerful running back, Thrasher, who slices the Tiger defense on a run of 25 yards putting the Flyers at the Tiger 25. The Tigers dig in again and shut down any additional forward progress by the Flyers. Flyers kick a 43-yard field goal off the foot of #1 McCoy. SMH 10 – Loyola 3. 1:23 to go in the first quarter.
Tigers run two plays before time expires in the first and the teams switch sides of the field. They cannot convert on third down and punt to the Flyers. Quarterback Allen rides Thrasher on the read option to the right before pulling the ball and running 45 yards to the Tiger 35. Loyola commits an infraction and is backed up to the Tiger 43. The Tiger defense again finds its grit started by a sack of Allen by Wes Manual. Next play would produce similar results as Damon LaGande stays at home and is able to drop Allen at his own 46, loss of 9. Flyers are forced to punt and Shelton takes off on a return to the left that on the surface looks to be a return of 40 plus yards. But the officials negate that and Tigers start at their 12. After a couple of plays and a first down, Howell hits Bienvenue on a post route that goes down to the Flyer 7. Howell runs right to put it the end zone and adds points for the Tigers. PAT denied this time. SMH 16 – Loyola 3. Tigers would take that lead into the locker room and work to stay on top in the second half.
Saint Mary’s would have to kick to Loyola to begin the play in the third. Flyers embark on a 9-play drive while eating 3 minutes of clock to ultimately score a 3-yard run by QB Allen and McCoy adds the PAT. The score tightens to SMH 16 – Loyola 10. Tigers receive the kick and get a sustained drive started that gets them as far as the Flyer 30. Back to back penalties would back the Tigers up and force them to punt from the Loyola 41. Shelton kicks an errant punt almost straight up and it hits a Flyer as it is coming down. The ball takes a large hop and is in the grasp of Friedel but only for a moment before he is hit by three Flyers causing the ball to be lost and recovered by Loyola at their 36. Flyers with a sense of urgency tried to get things going. On 3rd and 11, Allen targets a receiver but hangs the ball up short and there to grab the interception is Parker Bankston. The Tigers take over possession at their 15 and look to stretch the thin lead they have. Time would expire in the 3rd quarter after only a couple of plays and Saint Mary’s must punt to Loyola with only a couple of seconds of the final period clock.
The Flyers go three and out giving the ball back to the Tigers at their 24. The Tigers sealed the deal on this drive that starts with a 23-yard run by Howell. The sweep by Shelton follows for positive yardage. The Flyers commit two very costly penalties that set up the Tigers at the Flyer 3. Howell finds the end zone on a run and Bankston adds the PAT. SMH 23 – Loyola 10. Time remaining 5:28. In desperation and with little time to get a score, Allen throws deep into triple defenders where the Tiger safety Bienvenue intercepts the ball. Tigers just need to control the clock now and garner a couple of first downs to put this one away. They are able to do just that as they bleed the clock and move the ball to the Flyer 20 before taking a knee to end the game. SMH 23 – Loyola 10 final score.
The Tigers were the bigger animal in the yard this night. They grounded the Flyers keeping Snoopy from taking flight holding them to only 57 yards through the air. The Tigers steel the homecoming bone and return to Natchitoches with a big victory over a 3A team. In the victory, Saint Mary’s amassed 435 yards of total offense and 20 first downs. Howell led the rushing attack with 191 yards. The Tigers next opponent is new district foe University Academy on Thursday night. This Thursday is senior night for the Tigers and the LHSAA will be in attendance to present the 2015 State Championship trophy at half-time.