By MATT VINES, Journal Sports
ALEXANDRIA – St. Mary’s contained Peabody’s speed and athleticism for a half, but the Warhorses broke out of the corral in the second half en route to a 39-21 win Friday night in a non-district contest.
The Tigers led by as much as a touchdown in the first half and held a one-point halftime edge, but Peabody outscored St. Mary’s 26-7 in the second half.
“Peabody is a good team, and their big plays came on third and fourth down against our defense,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “We did not tackle very well, but they did a good job of running against us.
“By far they are the fastest team we’ve seen this year, and they have speed at every level.”
St. Mary’s (5-1) entered Friday’s contest on a 14-game regular season winning streak, which included a 58-6 drumming of Class 4A Peabody last season.
The streak dates back to a season-opening loss to Abbeville to begin the 2022 season.
“(The streak) says that our kids know how to win, and now we’ve got to learn to compete at the highest level,” York said. “My challenge to the kids this week will be to learn from our mistakes, have great effort, attitude and toughness.
“Let’s get back to the winning side of things in district.”
The Warhorses (5-2) are clearly not the same team in their second year under coach Harry Coleman, a former LSU linebacker, and Peabody added a win against St. Mary’s to a slate that already included a win against a ranked Class 2A Ferriday squad.
St. Mary’s has a history of playing quality teams in higher classifications to prepare for the playoffs, putting teams like Class 3A Abbeville and Class 5A Haughton on recent schedules.
The 2023 Peabody squad fits that mold.
“If we can learn from this game (coaches and players), this will definitely make us a better ball club for November,” York said.
To start the game, both teams benefitted from big plays.
Peabody struck first when quarterback Larry Roberts connected with Nate Frances for a 63-yard touchdown.
St. Mary’s scored the next two touchdowns – a 68-yard pass from Mixon Bankston to Ethan Busby and a Ben Bienvenu touchdown run – to lead 14-7 in the second quarter.
Peabody sliced that advantage to 14-13 when Roberts found Dartavian Depass from 43 yards before halftime.
Depass scored Peabody’s first two touchdowns of the second half on runs of 53 yards and three yards as the Warhorses began to pull away, leading 27-14.
A long kick return handed St. Mary’s a chance to dent Peabody’s lead, but Jordan Veal intercepted a Bankston pass and scored on the return to push the Warhorses edge to 33-14.
Busby caught a second touchdown pass from Bankston to get within 33-21, but Peabody scored the final touchdown for the 18-point win.
St. Mary’s (1-0 District 3-1A) returns to the district slate with a trip to Montgomery before facing Logansport, which handled visiting Peabody 34-6 on Sept. 15.