Looks can be deceiving with a team like St. Charles.
The Comets headed into action Friday against Brusly without their starting quarterback and a key defensive player. But in the end, the real St. Charles stepped out.
The defending 3A state champion found its way out of a first-quarter deficit to defeat the Panthers 31-19 in a 7-3A showdown.
The win gave the No. 5 ranked Comets (5-2) sole possession of first place in district, while the seventh-ranked Panthers slipped to 6-2 and 2-1 in 7-3A.
Brusly gave the Comets one of the toughest battles this season. Terrance West intercepted a pass by Austin Weber – substituting for Jemal Baptiste – and returned it for a 42-yard touchdown to put BHS ahead 7-0.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Brusly coach Erik Willis said. “They played their hearts out against one of the best teams in the state.”
A Brusly penalty on the touchdown was added to the kickoff, which opened the door for a Comet TD. St. Charles opted for an onside kick and recovered, which paved the way for Weber to score on a 13-yard keep.
Weber scored after SCHS sacked Panther punter Darrien Cobbs at the Brusly 19, which opened the door for Weber’s TD three plays later.
Brusly marched downfield on its second possession of the game, but a fumble at the SCHS 22-yard line squashed a Panther scoring opportunity.
“We played hard to put ourselves in a position to win, but we made some costly mistakes,” Willis said. “St. Charles is the kind of team that makes you pay for those mistakes.”
Patrick Juneau put SCHS in the lead on a 28-yard field goal by halftime.
The Comets stretched their lead to 24-7 in the third quarter when Weber connected with Brandon Zimmer on a 28-yard TD to give SCHS a 17-7 advantage. Weber followed with a 10-yard keep that put St. Charles ahead 24-7.
The Panthers fought back later in the quarter when Jay Christophe connected with DiMario Jackson for a 10-yard TD that cut the Comet lead to 24-13.
Zimmer scored on a 1-yard sneak that pulled the Comets further in the fourth quarter.
Christophe struck once more when he tossed a 5-yarder to West for a TD in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers fought to the bitter end. Christophe used passes of 17 and 13 yards to move BHS deep into Comet territory in the last minute of the game. But officials called back a 45-yard pass completion to Travin Thibodaux to the Comet 5 on a pass interference call to scratch the play.
Christophe finished the night with 15-of-33 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 21 times for 86 yards.
The Panthers tallied 310 yards total offense against 270 for the Comets.
The Comets had trouble getting started in the first half, St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.
“Our defense was flat in the first half, and the offense tried to get some momentum, but the first half momentum was all Brusly,” he said. “We just couldn’t get a running game going.
“They’re a great team,” Monica said. “Coach Willis does a great job with those kids, and I think they could make a big run in the playoffs.”
The Panthers travel Friday for district action at Donaldsonville.