By Peter Pasqua
VACHERIE – St. James High School only held a two-point lead at the half but pulled away from rival Donalsdonville in the second to claim a 25-0 Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 3A bi-district playoff victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
The ninth-seeded Wildcats (7-4), coached by Robert Valdez, advance to the regional playoffs for the second straight year out-gaining No. 24 seed Donaldsonville in total yardage 222-112.
St. James, who also knocked River Parishes and District 10-3A rival Donaldsonville (5-6) out of the playoffs during their two most recent deep runs in the semifinals in 1996 and quarterfinals in 2007, also defeated the Tigers, coached by Brian Richardson, earlier in the season 22-0.
Wildcat quarterback Shamar Smith rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and was 3-of-16 passing for 39 yards with an interception. Sean LeBeouf added 82 yards rushing on 16 carries and Logan Gravois had two receptions for 30 yards.
Donaldsonville quarterback Treveyon Brown was 10-of-26 passing for 92 yards but was sacked five times and threw two interceptions. Jaquaivus Tenner rushed for 23 yards on seven attempts and Tyrese Ester had two receptions for 30 yards.
St. James clung to a 2-0 halftime lead thanks to a safety in the first quarter. However, things began to click in the third with a 9-yard touchdown run by Smith and a 39-yard field goal from Alec Mauler to increase the lead to 12-0.
Smith added a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Tyler Steib sealed the win with a 62-yard interception return for the final tally.
Christian Bell had an interception for Donaldsonville in the loss.
St. James travels to No. 8 seed North Webster (7-4), a 41-8 winner over 25th seeded Albany, for the second round Friday night in Springhill. The Wildcats advanced to the quarterfinals last season over Marksville and Madison Prep before falling to Kaplan.