Tigers fall short in jamboree

Kyle Riviere
Donaldsonville quarterback Jaylin Williams threw one touchdown strike in the Tigers' loss. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The scoreboard may not have been friendly to Donaldsonville on Thursday night, but their jamboree against St. James was about so much more than wins and losses.

After a week that saw the parish affected by historic flooding, the Tigers just wanted to get back on the field and experience a little bit of normalcy.

This certainly rang true for first-year head coach Brian Richardson—who became one of the thousands of South Louisiana residents that had their homes flooded.

“I wasn’t getting any sleep. I just couldn’t wait for this moment. I just wanted to get my first hit in,” Richardson said. “We haven’t been able to play football in two weeks. It was fun. I was anxious to see how our guys were going to compete.”

Just last week, some of the Tiger football players were helping gut flooded homes in East Baton Rouge. On Thursday night, they were having to find a way to stop St. James quarterback Lowell Narcisse—one of the top QBs in the state and an LSU commit.

“We’re all good friends. We’re only 10 minutes apart from each other. We’re always talking, so it’s really a love/hate thing,” Richardson said. “We go at it, but we also like to see each other succeed. It was a tall task, but our guys couldn’t wait to do it. They couldn’t wait to face Lowell Narcisse. We wanted to be tested.”

Donaldsonville passed that test early.

On St. James’ first possession, the Tiger defense stood tall and forced them to turn the ball over on downs.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, Narcisse was pressured and forced to throw an errant pass. It was picked off by linebacker Tahj Brown at the St. James 20.

Six plays later, Brown was rewarded for causing the turnover when he took a handoff from the fullback position and powered his way into the end zone from five yards out.

Trailing 6-0, St. James promptly responded. They drove 54 yards in seven plays and tied the game when Narcisse threw at 23-yard touchdown pass.

With the game tied at 6-6, the Wildcats started the second half with a big kickoff return that put them at the Donaldsonville 34.

Eight plays later, St. James scored and converted the two-point try to take a 14-6 lead.

St. James kept the momentum going on their next drive as they marched 62 yards in six plays and extended the advantage to 21-6 with a 14-yard Narcisse touchdown strike.

The Tiger offense finally woke up when first-year starting quarterback Jaylin Williams scrambled and launched a bomb across the field. James Gipson came down with it and raced 77 yards for a score.

That was as close as the Tigers would get. St. James eventually tacked on another touchdown to clinch a 28-12 victory.

“The difference was the experience they have already. They’ve been able to play a fall scrimmage, and they’ve been able to practice every day and work on their conditioning,” Richardson said. “That was the deciding factor. They were able to wear us down a little bit. We haven’t been able to do much. We had to wait around and see if we were even going to have a jamboree.”

Narcisse showed why he has been so highly touted as he went 12-18 for 100 yards and two scores through the air, and he rushed for 77 yards on the ground.

Jemond Pleasant led the Tigers’ rushing attack with 13 carries for 80 yards. Through the air, Gipson had two catches for 84 yards and a score.

Considering that Donaldsonville wasn’t able to practice and gameplan much for the jamboree, Coach Richardson was encouraged by what he saw on Thursday night.

“I love the way we competed. We had a shot there to win at the end until their last drive,” Richardson said. “I want to see our conditioning get better. We definitely have to work on that. We need to get more of our offense and our defense in. To be honest, we only had a handful of plays coming into tonight, so we need to start working in more of that.”