ST. JAMES — Patterson started fast but had to hang on to beat St. James, 20-13, Friday.
Early in the fourth quarter and leading by seven, Patterson running back Larry Turner fumbled at the 3-yard line. Seth Keller scooped up the ball for St. James and returned it to the Patterson 27-yard line.
With second-half momentum already on the Wildcats’ sideline, the Lumberjacks were on the ropes.
“We made mistakes in the red zone,” Patterson head coach Tommy Minton said. “We had three trips to the red zone and didn’t get any points.”
But the young PHS defense forced a turnover, recovering a fumble three plays later.
“We had several players hurting tonight,” Minton said. “But others stepped up and made plays when we needed them.”
St. James (0-2) did not threaten to score for the remainder of the quarter.
“We battled, but we just made some mental errors,” St. James head coach James Bell said. “The defense jelled and played hard, but we just need to tighten some things because we want to be good in all three phases.”
Patterson (2-1, ninth in the Louisiana Sportswriters’ weekly Class 3A ranking) jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Deontay Jones capped a 7-play, 52-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:21 to play in the first quarter.
Jones led the PHS rushing attack with 132 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. Turner also had 65 yards on 14 carries and a score.
PHS was without standout running back Shelby Lavergne because of injury.
Quarterback Denzel Johnson hooked up with Jedrick Gunner early in the second quarter to secure a 14-point lead.
Johnson was 21-of-33 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown. Johnson was also missing his top target, Daylon Charlot, injured on the opening kickoff.
Freshman Mykel Jones stepped up with six catches for 60 yards. Deontay Jones also caught five passes for 65 yards out of the backfield.
“We started off fast, but it was ugly in the second half,” Minton said. “Defensively, we made a step in the right direction. We only gave up two big plays tonight. I thought we made progress and gained confidence.”
Patterson held St. James to just 91 yards of offense (53 rushing, 38 passing). St. James quarterback D’Kwan Sandolph had 25 yards rushing on nine carries and completed 2-of-6 passes for 38 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Patterson opens district play Friday at North Vermilion. The Patriots fell, 37-20, to Catholic High Friday. Quarterback Joe Duhon threw three touchdown passes in the loss. He was 12-of-22 passing for 141 yards.
Vermilion Today contributed to this story.