St. Mary’s coaches and players knew they had a big challenge going to Logansport Friday night to play for the District 3-1A championship, and it would take the Tigers’ best game to prevail.
No dice. Although a courageous fourth-quarter comeback briefly provided hope of a second straight miraculous rally against Logansport, this year the LHS Tigers punched back with a pair of late scores to secure a 50-23 victory over the visiting Tigers.
A year ago, St. Mary’s scored 15 points in the last 17 seconds to stun Logansport 46-45.
Friday night, St. Mary’s scored 13 straight in just over two minutes to snatch the momentum and draw within 36-23 with 6:01 remaining.
But right away, Logansport threw another lightning bolt on a 79-yard touchdown run 14 seconds later. After stopping SMHS, Logansport got another long play before locking down the win on an 11-yard TD 2:26 before the game’s end.
St. Mary’s (7-2 overall), falling for the first time in eight weeks, committed four turnovers. SMHS avoided a blowout partly by recovering three fumbles and blocking a punt (Drake Griffin).
Logansport scored on big plays of 30, 65, 52, 60 and 79 yards among its seven touchdowns as it piled up an astounding 625 yards, 348 on the ground. St. Mary’s totalled 307 yards, 206 in the air.
“We didn’t play our best game, one of our worst games of the year, and when you do that against a good, athletic, physical team, that’s what you get,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “They were tough up front and they had some speedsters who could go.
“But as bad as we looked, with all the turnovers, we were within two scores in the fourth quarter and then once again, their speed eclipsed our speed. We couldn’t contain them.”
It was inspiring to see his team rally down the stretch.
“When we got it to that point, you could see it in our kids eyes – ‘hey, we’ve been here before, and we’re OK.’ Plenty of time left,” said York. “Then one long pass, one long run and they pushed the lead back out. We didn’t finish very well.”
St. Mary’s opened the scoring four minutes into play on a 30-yard Payne Williams field goal. The home team responded with a 21-point eruption in just 2:42 at the end of the first quarter to take command, and made it 26-3 8:16 before halftime.
Adam Parker bombed a 49-yard TD to Nathan Slaughter and Williams banged through the conversion just over two minutes later, to breathe some fire back into the visiting sideline. Logansport extended its lead in an 80-second burst midway through the third period for a 36-10 advantage, but the Tigers didn’t quit.
Parker’s 1-yard score and a 10-yard TD connection with Slaughter got SMHS within 13 in the middle of the final period.
Ben Bienvenu, Dalton Waters and Cole Fisher had fumble recoveries for SMHS. Logan Watson led the Tigers with 5.5 tackles.
Logansport was who York thought they were. The winners, despite a 5-4 overall record, are a serious contender for a state 1A title.
“They’re the best team we’ve seen,” said York. “Our two losses are to Logansport, No. 1 in 1A, and Abbeville, No. 4 in 3A. You’re not going to see a better 1A team than we ran into Friday night.
“But we weren’t sharp enough to win,” he said. “This is a lesson. Now we need to finish next week and hopefully get a home playoff game. Football’s a humbling sport, and if this refocuses some of our guys to give their very best every day in every way.”
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