BY MATT VINES, Journal Sports
BUCKEYE – One week ago, a St. Mary’s halftime lead evaporated on the road against Class 3A Abbeville.
Just a week later at Class 3A Buckeye, the Tigers surged instead of faded in the second half in a 26-7 win Friday.
After a 6-0 lead in the first half, the Tigers (1-1) dumped the next 20 points on Buckeye (1-1) before the home team added a late score to prevent the shutout.
“Our defense did a great job, and I thought we game-planned well,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “In the second half, we were able to establish a running game which opened up our passing attack.
“We had way too many penalties and turnovers in the beginning, but I think we responded well to the adversity.”
A balanced offensive attack kicked into gear in the third quarter, starting with a 16-yard touchdown run from running back Joe Metoyer to put SMS up 13-0. Metoyer rushed for 109 yards on just 11 carries as the St. Mary’s rushed for 158 yards as a team.
The passing game overcame early troubles as quarterback Adam Parker threw for 149 yards on 16-of-24 with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Parker found receiver Ben Bienvenu for a 20-yard touchdown strike early in the fourth quarter to build an insurmountable 20-0 edge.
The quarterback added a 4-yard touchdown jaunt for good measure for the 26-0 advantage before Buckeye added a late touchdown. The Panthers mustered just 159 offensive yards to St. Mary’s 307.
Bienvenu led the receiving effort with seven catches for 79 yards with Payne Williams adding 45 yards on three receptions.
But Williams’ greatest value lays in his leg as the kicker drilled first-half field goals of 49 and 53 yards to help the Tigers weather penalties and turnovers.
Williams went 2-for-4 on field goals, including a 54-yarder that doinked off the crossbar in a miss.
After St. Mary’s first two games have been on the road, the Tigers return home to face Class 2A Holy Savior Menard at Northwestern State’s Turpin Stadium.
Menard (1-1) has a puzzling set of results so far, falling to Class 1A St. Frederick by 14 points before turning around and whooping Class 5A Pineville 32-13.
St. Mary’s 26, Buckeye 7
Score by quarters
St. Mary’s | 6 | 0 | 7 | 13 | – 26
Buckeye | 0 | 0 | 0 | 7 | – 7
St. Mary’s – Payne Williams 49 FG
St. Mary’s – Williams 53 FG
St. Mary’s – Joe Metoyer 16 run (Williams kick)
St. Mary’s – Ben Bienvenu 20 pass from Adam Parker (Williams kick)
St. Mary’s – Parker 4 run (Mixon Bankston kick failed)
Buckeye – #81 39 run (Zander Smith kick
Rushing – SMS, Metoyer 11-109 TD; Drake Griffin 5-28; Parker 8-16 TD, Connor Jordan 2-5. BHS, Jim Burlew 19-40, #81 2-39 TD, Haiden Boone 1-10, Titan Johnson 13-(-15).
Passing – SMS, Parker 16-24-2, 149, TD. BHS, Johnson 13-20-0, 85.
Receiving – SMS, Ben Bienvenu 7-79 TD, Payne Williams 3-45, Ethan Busby 4-24, Metoyer 1-2, Bankston 1-2. BHS, Smith 4-40; #81 5-19, Eastin Davis 1-19, Haiden Boone 3-8.