Pelicans survive four turnovers for victory
Port Allen defeated St. James, but concern etched the face of head coach Guy Blanchard after the Pelicans won their District 7-3A opener Friday night.
The Pelicans survived four turnovers to defeat the struggling Wildcats 28-6 at Guy Otwell Stadium.
“It’s a win, and ugly wins are better than pretty losses any day,” he said.
PAHS (4-1, 1-0) must eliminate the miscues to prevail over competition on the remainder of the schedule.
The itinerary includes a trip to defending 3A state champion St. Charles on Friday, along with battles against Donaldsonville, E.D. White and Brusly.
The Pelicans lost possession on three-of-three fumbles.
“If we don’t stop turning the ball over, we won’t win another game this year,” Blanchard said. “Tonight, we were negative-13 on turnover ratios,”
“We had four turnovers tonight and they gave us one back — that’s ridiculous and we can’t have that,” he said. “We have to find a way to fix it, or we won’t win another game.”
The turnovers didn’t affect Port Allen’s productivity on offense.
The Pelicans amassed 412 yards total offense – 220 on the ground and 192 passing.
Darian Claiborne and Jestin Kelly combined for four Pelican touchdowns. Claiborne scored on a run and a pass to Nelson Allen.
Claiborne completed 9 of 18 passes for 192 yards. He rushed 18 times for 87 yards.
Claiborne broke loose for a 21-yard TD run that put the Pels ahead 21-6 in the third quarter. Kelly followed with a two-point conversion run.
Kelly carried 20 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pelican ground attack.
He scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, and followed with a 3-yarder in the second quarter for the Pelicans.
Mylik Green booted the extra-point kick on the first TD, but came up short on the attempt in the second quarter.
Caleb Johnson took three passes for 107 yards, while Kyle Moore grabbed three for 42 yards and Telson Allen caught three for 42 yards.
Johnson also had a 47-yard punt return.
Allen wrapped PAHS scoring on a 28-yard TD pass from Claiborne.
Port Allen’s defense effectively kept St. James from mounting a threat. The Pels held the Wildcats to 67 yards rushing and only 4 yards passing.
“I was extremely proud of the defensive effort.
They didn’t really score on the defense,” Blanchard said. “(St. James) returned the ball to the 1-yard line to score off an interception and a terrible pass we shouldn’t have thrown.”
Morris Miller led Pelican defenders with five tackles, three assists and one sack. Kelly, Claiborne and Charles Mullins each tallied four tackles, while Earl Bridgewater finished with three solos and five assists.
Inexperience and injuries also stifled the Wildcats, SJHS coach James Bell said.
“It’s the same old thing. We’re young and have to play through it,” Coach James Bell said. “Low on numbers … young kids. They’re playing hard – that’s all I ask them to do.
“All of our guys are going both ways, and now we got four or five hurt. We came out with thirty-three, now minus five,” he said. “You have to play perfect – that’s just the way it is. We’re in a tough league, but with such small numbers that’s just the way it is.”
St. James came within a touchdown of the Pelicans when the Wildcats returned a Claiborne interception to the 1-yard line. It opened the gate for Kiwon Sandolph to ease in to the end zone and come within seven points of the PAHS lead.
St. James put a drive in motion that moved the ball to the Pelican 2-yard line, but PAHS turned back the Wildcats on an 8-yard loss before SJHS punted back to the Pels.
Port Allen lost 96 yards off nine penalties.
“We have to get better in all areas of the game,” Blanchard said. “The offense was sloppy with penalties everywhere. We have to clean it up or we’ll be embarrassed.”