Stone held the Rock-a-chaws to negative yardage on their next three plays before the Rock-a-chaws were forced to punt. Collins went to work again for the Tomcats, this time scoring on a 60-yard punt return to give the Tomcats a 14-7 lead with 8:46 remaining in the third quarter.
BAY ST LOUIS — Evan Noel kicked a 31-yard field goal with just over two-and-a-half minutes left to give St. Stanislaus (4-1) a two-score lead and a 23-14 win against Stone High (2-3) on Friday night.
The Rock-a-chaws led 7-0 at halftime, but the Tomcats took the edge in the third quarter, scoring twice in just over three minutes to start the quarter. Stone led 14-7 and it appeared the Tomcats had the momentum.
The Tomcats’ first score followed a blocked punt recovered at the Rock-a-chaws’ 2-yard line.
Daylon Collins took it in from there on the first snap and the PAT evened the score at 7-7.
But the Rock-a-chaws came chomping back, going 80 yards on 10 plays with a little help from the visitors on a personal foul call on a fourth-down play. With first-and-goal at the Tomcats’ 8, Ian Rioz connected with Levi Green in the end zone to tie the game at 14-14 with four minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Rock-a-chaws attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but they made contact with the ball before it traveled 10 yards, so the Tomcats had decent field position at their own 36.
The Tomcats fumbled the ball over to the Rock-a-chaws on the next snap, and Rioz went to work immediately, this time connecting with Ben Brewer for a 35-yard scoring toss to give the home team a 20-14 lead after the PAT was blocked.
So, at that point, the Rock-a-chaws had overcome a blocked punt and a blocked PAT, and they had failed to convert on first-and-goal at the visitors’ 1-yard line after an 81-yard Rioz keeper earlier in the third quarter.
“It wasn’t a clean game by any stretch,” said Rock-a-chaws coach Tim Lala. “That (Stone) touchdown to come back and tie the ballgame, you start to see the doubt creeping in. The message at halftime was fight because it was going to be a fourth-quarter fistfight. We were up 7-0, but we knew we were in a war.”
“I think the execution could have been a little better, especially right out of half. But ultimately we accomplished those things and walked out with a homecoming win.”
A 42-yard touchdown toss from Rioz to Ethan Galloway early in the second quarter was the game’s first score.
On the Rock-a-chaws’ next possession, Rioz broke free from a couple of tacklers near the line of scrimmage, then ran down the home sideline for 81 yards before being caught at the 1-yard line. The Rock-a-chaws were backed up on two snaps before gaining two yards on fourth down, one yard short of the goal line.
Rioz completed 13 of 22 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Galloway had seven receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.
St. Stanislaus opens region play at home against Tylertown next Friday. Stone opens region play at Laurel.