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St. James wins season-ending shootout with Trinity in battle of top-10 foes

By Kamarri Darrington / Central Alabama Scoreboard

Photos courtesy of St. James Parents

MONTGOMERY–It may have been the cold air circulating Carlisle Field. It may have been the fact that it was senior night at St. James. It may have been the chance for the Trojans to avenge a 26-point loss from a season ago.

Whatever it was, the fans that braved the cold were treated to an unexpectedly wide-open track meet. St. James made the plays when they counted.

Trojans quarterback KJ Jackson completed 10 of 21 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns to lead a 42-35 win over (Class 3A) No. 7 Trinity on Friday.

(Class 4A) No. 8 St. James (9-1) finished off its ninth straight win with an interception by Clayton Craft with less than a minute remaining.

The Trojans offense set the tone for the 77-point outburst on the first play from scrimmage.

Trojans running back Cosner Harrison took the ball 56 yards for a touchdown to give St. James a 7-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, Jackson threw a 63-yard strike to Ethan Beard for a 14-0 lead with 9:10 left in the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, Jackson converted on a fourth-down scramble for 13 yards and then hit Clint Houser for a 10-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 8:09 left. Harrison later added a 44-yard run to give the Trojans a 28-21 lead they took into the halftime break.

“I was extremely proud of our kids,” St. James head coach Jimmy Perry said. “Trinity played hard and gave us some trouble with the way they ran their offense. KJ is a great leader. There’s a lot of upside for him. Cosner ran the ball well. I thought we blocked well for the most part.”

Jackson continued his clutch play in the second half as the game seesawed towards the fourth quarter. 

Jackson led a drive of over six minutes before scoring on a seven-yard run for a 35-21 lead late in the third quarter. Jackson hit Beard on a 64-yard scoring pass to put the game out of reach at 42-28 with 7:30 left in the fourth.

Trinity (8-2) quickly responded to St. James’ early output as quarterback Coleman Stanley hit Chase Letner on a 69-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 14-7 for St. James. 

Trinity would tie the game in the second quarter as Mac McClinton knifed through the Trojans defense for a 60-yard touchdown reception with 6:00 left. After a pour St. James punt, Chase Letner would score two plays later on a 3-yard run for a 21-21 tie with 3:00 left before halftime.

The Wildcats’ comeback attempt continued in the third quarter as Letner scored from three yards out for a 35-28 deficit. Stanley hit Lucas Pittman on a 16-yard score to cut the St. James lead to 42-35 with 3:26 to play in the game.

Stanley completed 9 of 19 passes for 216 yards and three scores. Letner rushed for 85 yards on 17 carries. McClinton caught four passes for 92 yards. 

Trinity now turns its attention to the playoffs. The Wildcats host No. 3 seed Wicksburg (7-3) next Friday.

“Our offense played very well tonight,” Trinity head coach Granger Shook said. “I did not expect us to give up 35 points and lose. Those are the games that you’re supposed to win. I didn’t put the kids in the best position to win. We’ll get that corrected going into next week.”

Harrison ran the ball 24 times for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Beard caught five passes for 158 yards and two scores. Houser caught four passes for 52 yards. St. James finished with 446 total yards.

St. James will start its quest for a state championship by hosting No. 4 seed Anniston (5-4) next Friday.

“Our offense is having a really good season,” Jackson said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence, especially with Cosner running the ball like that. This game was big for momentum going into the playoffs. We can’t wait to get up and play next week.”

The staff at CAScoreboard thanks Malik Melton.

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