Defense carries St. Mary’s to rivalry win at Menard

SCRAMBLING TIGER: St. Mary’s quarterback Mixon Bankston escapes pressure from Holy Savior Menard on Friday during a 26-13 road win in Alexandria. (Photo courtesy ELIZABETH YOPP, St. Mary’s)

By MATT VINES, Journal Sports

ALEXANDRIA – On a night when the offense didn’t light up the scoreboard, St. Mary’s defense more than picked up the slack.

The Tigers’ D scored two touchdowns of its’ own to thwart any chance of a Holy Savior Menard comeback in a 26-13 win Friday on the road, keeping St. Mary’s unbeaten.

Ethan Busby and Ben Bienvenu each returned interceptions for touchdowns to widen a five-point lead to 26-7 in the second half.

“Defensively I thought we played lights out, and those were huge plays by Ethan and Ben to create turnovers,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “It’s always great to get a win, especially against a program the caliber of Menard.

“We still have to clean up penalties, and we turned the ball over twice. But we’ll get better at those things, and it’s great to move to 3-0.”

Menard mustered a late passing touchdown, but St. Mary’s easily ran out the clock to secure a 3-0 start to the season.

The Eagles (1-2) took advantage of an early St. Mary’s fumble deep in Tiger territory, cashing in on a 4-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Quarterback Mixon Bankston had a hand in each of St. Mary’s first two touchdowns, running one in from five yards and finding receiver Busby for a 26-yard connection on the second score.

The first drive covered 78 yards. St. Mary’s set up the second 76-yard drive after halting Menard on fourth down around the 25-yard line.

Bankston threw for 117 yards on 8-of-13 while adding another 40 yards on the ground.

Drake Griffin, who recovered from the early fumble, led the Tigers with 69 rushing yards. Griffin added two catches for 19 yards and led the defense with 15 tackles.

“Offensively, I thought we thought we ran the ball when we needed to,” York said. “Drake had a great night with our ground game.”

Nathan Slaughter caught one pass for 56 yards, which set up St. Mary’s first touchdown.

St. Mary’s defense held up particularly well early, allowing just 49 yards on Menard’s first six drives. That did include a 12-yard touchdown drive following a fumble.

Menard had 114 yards in its final four drives, but the 50-yard touchdown drive to end the game came when the Tigers had a three-score lead.

The Eagles totaled 168 yards to St. Mary’s 264.

With the 3-0 start, St. Mary’s has won 11 straight regular-season games dating back to the 2022 season-opener against Abbeville.

The Tigers host Class 2A DeQuincy in Week 4 next Thursday.