A few weeks of on and off field turmoil was the story for St. Augustine heading into its Week 7 matchup against Helen Cox. The Purple Knights had lost three straight games with their last win coming against Kennedy on September 20, and coach Nathaniel Jones was relieved of his duties on October 8 after a controversial pre-game chant surfaced on the internet.
A win would at the very least serve as a temporary band-aid over multiple wounds, and the Purple Knights got it with a convincing 46-13 non-district win over the Cougars Saturday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“It felt really good to get a win tonight,” St. Augustine interim head coach Kenneth Dorsey Jr. said. “The kids worked really hard this week and they were yearning for the taste of a victory…I’m happy they got a win after all the stuff that was going on.”
“At the end of the day, we’ve still got a season to play,” said junior quarterback Kendell Sampson Jr., who had a strong day accounting for two touchdowns with 230 yards, 74 of which came on the ground. “Coach Jones would want us to win every game if he was here and ‘win the day’ — that’s what he would tell us.”
It didn’t take long for it to become clear the Purple Knights (4-3) would win Saturday night as they jumped out to a 26-0 lead in the first 14 minutes.
They scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game and a struggling Helen Cox (2-5) punting game left them with short fields more times than not. St. Aug’s four scoring drives covered 48, 23, 69 and 26 yards with junior running back Albert Quest V finishing off the first and third drives with runs of 2 and 23 yards.
Sampson Jr. did the honors on the other two scores with a run of nine yards and a 3-yard toss to senior tight end Gregory Norman III that made it 26-0 with 10:25 left in the first half. The Purple Knights were highly effective on the ground rushing for 234 yards on the night, 150 of which came in the first half.
Meanwhile, the defense allowed just 38 yards over the first two quarters as St. Augustine brought its 26-point lead into intermission. They also nearly put points on the board themselves when defensive end Kendal Rowan returned an interception for a touchdown, but it was brought back to Helen Cox’s 26-yard line on a blindside block that eventually led to St. Aug’s last score of the half.
“The defense played good and the running game was good for the offense,” Sampson Jr. said. “We lost three games in a row and it just feels good to get a win again.”
Helen Cox showed some resistance on its first possession of the third quarter piecing together a 12-play, 54-yard. The Purple Knight defense almost held, but the Cougars whipped out a slick reverse to defensive back Raekwon Starks for a 3-yard touchdown cutting the deficit to 26-7 with 2:40 left until the start of the fourth.
St. Augustine responded immediately, though, with their own 6-play, 57-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a 9-yard run from sophomore Justin Doyle, who also had carries of 8, 24 and 11 yards on three of the drive’s previous four plays.
The defense then put the game away with back-to-back interceptions by Edward Gilds III and junior linebacker Savon Goodwin, who returned his 36 yards for a touchdown pushing the lead to 39-7 with 8:30 left in the game.
“I owe it all to my d-lineman for their pass rushing and I owe it to the whole defense,” said Gilds III, who also had another interception in the first half. “The first one I saw the throw coming and jumped it, and the second one I saw the quarterback dip his shoulder down to throw it, and I turned around and caught it.”
Both teams added one more touchdown after Goodwin’s score as Khari Fields made the switch from receiver to quarterback leading the Cougars on a 6-play, 62-yard scoring drive. The possession included completions of 14 and 29 yards to sophomore Kolby Sullen before Fields ran in a touchdown from 15 yards out.
St. Augustine’s final points were set up by a 72-yard kickoff return by Quest V down to the 9-yard line. Doyle muscled his way into the end zone from four yards out three plays later for the eventual 46-13 margin of victory with 4:22 left to play.
The Purple Knights will now step back into Catholic League play with Rummel up first on Saturday before matchups against Shaw and Holy Cross to close the season.
“We’ve got to come to practice focused every week and play the best we can against everybody,” Sampson Jr. said of the team’s approach for the rest of the regular season.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” Dorsey Jr. added. “We’re going to enjoy this win tonight and get back to work tomorrow on Rummel.”
Helen Cox will close its season with three District 10-4A opponents in Belle Chasse, Landry-Walker and Karr.
“We prepared this week for what (St. Augustine) did,” Helen Cox coach David Davis Sr. said. “We just didn’t execute on offense and defense, we lost our focus and we’ve got to go back to the drawing board to try to prepare and get ready for Belle Chasse.”
Helen Cox: 183 yards of total offense (64 rushing, 119 passing)
St. Augustine: 390 yards of total offense (234 rushing, 156 passing)
Rushing: Khari Fields, 8-26, 1 TD; Tyler Williams, 1-19; Tyrone Wilson, 11-18; Amari Dunbar, 1-6; Raekwon Starks, 1-3, 1 TD; Ray Ruffin, 4-(-8).
Receiving: Kolby Sullen, 5-55; Eric St. Romain, 4-47; Khari Fields, 1-13; Kyren Marshall, 1-7; Tyrone Wilson, 1-0; Santana Coleman, 1-(-3).
Passing: Ray Ruffin, 11-24, 119 yards, 0 TDs, 4 INTs; Khari Fields, 2-4, 43 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs.
Rushing: Justin Doyle, 10-74, 2 TDs; Kendell Sampson Jr., 12-74, 1 TD; Albert Quest V, 8-47, 2 TDs; Keilon Pritchett, 3-21; Shan Brooks, 1-14; Carl Singleton Jr., 4-4.
Receiving: Jaheim Walters, 1-50; Tylie Keasley, 2-31; Albert Quest V, 1-18; Gregory Norman III, 2-16, 1 TD; Josh White, 1-14; Khi Mathieu, 2-11; Justin Doyle, 1-8; August Banks Jr., 2-8.
Passing: Kendell Sampson Jr., 12-21, 156 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
St. Augustine — Albert Quest V 2 run (Vincent Joseph kick), 7:02, 0-7.
St. Augustine — Kendell Sampson Jr. 9 run (kick failed), 2:13, 0-13.
St. Augustine — Quest V 23 run (kick failed), 0:16, 0-19.
St. Augustine — Gregory Norman III 3 pass from Sampson Jr. (kick good), 10:31, 0-26.
Helen Cox — Raekwon Starks 3 run (Josiah Lanasa kick), 2:40, 7-26.
St. Augustine — Justin Doyle 9 run (kick good), 0:49, 7-33.
St. Augustine — Savon Goodwin 36 interception return (kick failed), 8:30, 7-39.
Helen Cox — Khari Fields 15 run (pass failed), 5:51, 13-39.
St. Augustine — Doyle 4 run (kick good), 4:22, 13-46.
NEXT UP: St. Augustine jumps back into Catholic League play taking on Rummel Saturday at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7 p.m. Helen Cox will also see a district opponent in 10-4A matching up with Belle Chasse Friday at home at 7 p.m.