Early St. Mary’s lead doesn’t hold at Abbeville

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ABBEVILLE – St. Mary’s took the first swing at Class 3A power Abbeville on Friday, but the Tigers couldn’t hold off a second-half surge from the Wildcats in a 21-7 loss to open the season.

The Tigers (0-1) scored on their opening possession when quarterback Adam Parker found Joe Metoyer on a 2-yard touchdown strike.

That score held as St. Mary’s led 7-6 at the half, but Abbeville (1-0), ranked No. 9 in Class 3A, added two second-half touchdowns while frustrating the Tigers’ offense.

“I thought we came out and played well,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York, whose own Tigers are receiving votes in the opening Class 1A preseason poll. “We came out offensively and scored on our drive and were shutting them down defensively.

“But in the second half, we had a few penalties and got behind the chains on offense. And then they ground us down defensively, and eventually it was a numbers game.”

The Wildcats used their size and depth advantage to chew up 269 rushing yards. St. Mary’s forced Abbeville to earn their first downs as they held the Wildcats to 3-13 third-down conversions, but the risk-taking Wildcats cashed in 3-4 fourth-down tries to keep drives alive.

Parker threw for 166 yards on 23-33 passing as Abbeville didn’t allow many explosive plays.

Receiver Payne Williams led the charge with eight catches for 74 yards while Ethan Busby added 35 yards on five catches.

The Tigers were saddled with just three penalties for 15 yards, but with yardage hard to come by in the second half, minor setbacks thwarted drives as Abbeville took control of the game.

“Overall I thought we played hard – we just have to finish in the second half,” York said.

Defensively, Drake Griffin tallied a team-high 6.5 tackles with Ben Bienvenu (six tackles) recording St. Mary’s lone tackle for loss. Busby added two pass breakups, which is more than Abbeville’s completed passes (1-6).

The Tigers managed 54 rushing yards led by Metoyer’s 31 yards on eight carries. Metoyer chipped in with four receptions, including his touchdown.

The game departed from last year’s 43-23 Abbeville win as the 2022 version had yardage and points hard to come by.

The Tigers head back down south next week as they travel to another Class 3A opponent in Buckeye (1-0), who defeated Class 1A Block on Friday.