The Louisiana State Championship in
The 1978 State Championship game was played on Friday, December 15, 1978
Copyright © 1978 The Times-Picayune
St Aug Rides Friendly Sky to State Win
By RAY BEARD
It was a shame one of the teams had to lose.
For 48 minutes Friday night St. Augustine and Jesuit battled on the Superdome floor before approximately 42,000 fans for the right to wear the crown of Louisiana AAAA champions. In the end it was two long touchdown passes by St. Augustine’s Darren Dixon to Gregory Hobbs that gave them a hard-fought 13-7 victory and their second state crown in four years.
connected with Hobbs on a second quarter pass for 53 yards after Hobbs
was hit hard several times. The two connected in the early moments
of the fourth quarter for what proved to be the winning points – this
time for 30 yards.
important as the two touchdown passes were, St. Augustine head coach
Otis Washington felt two catches by All-City tight end Malcolm Scott was
the difference. “Those two short passes to Scott on the winning
touchdown drive were the key to the game,” Washington explained,
“They figured importantly in the scoring drive.”
had tied the game at 7 late in the third quarter when St. Augustine
began that all-important winning drive. The two catches by Scott
were made with a defensive back draped around the big tight end and kept
alive the drive.
But on the other side of the field Jesuit head coach Billy Murphy and defensive end Milt Morrison believed the two TD passes should have been called back. “On the winning touchdown pass the man (Hobbs) definitely pushed off,” Murphy explained. “On the first touchdown pass I was clipped twice,” Morrison offered. “Once when I had Hobbs and then again after I had started to pursue after getting up.”
St. Augustine finished the season 14-1 while Jesuit finished 13-2, losing both contests to the Purple Knights.
As had been the case for most of the season, St. Augustine’s defense rose to the occasion when called upon. “Defensively, our game plan was to take away the middle form Jesuit,” Washington explained. “Jesuit was much better tonight than the first time we played them. Their defense was much better. On offense we had men open but overthrew on several occasions.” While St. Augustine’s Dixon was able to complete only six of 13 passes, four – two to Hobbs and two to Scott – were very important.
Jesuit’s Lon McCloskey, thanks to a 76-yard run for a touchdown, paced all ball carriers with 99 yards on nine carries.
St. Augustine’s Earl Wright picked up 79 yards on 16 carries, while Alvin Martin added 68 yards on 14 tries. St. Aug’s Darryl Songy, better known for his defensive efforts, gave his team excellent field position by taking the opening kickoff from his own 13 to the 42. But the Blue Jay defense allowed St. Augustine just three downs and a punt.
From their own 20-yard line the Blue Jays moved 38 yards, picking up three first downs, before having to kick.
Defense on both sides kept either team from moving with any regularity until midway through the second quarter.
The Purple Knights took possession at their 30 and ran five plays to the 47. Facing a third-and-five at that point quarterback Darren Dixon found flanker Gregory Hobbs alone in the middle near Jesuit’s 35. The big receiver caught the ball, whirled to his left, was hit hard by two Jesuit defenders, bounced off and, somehow, kept his balance. Two more Jesuit defenders had a crack at Hobbs a few yards downfield but neither was able to bring the tall receiver down. Suddenly there was no one between Hobbs and the goal. Just 3:47 was left in the half as he crossed the goal. James Wagner added the extra point and St. Augustine had a 7-0 lead that it carried to the halftime break.
Jesuit took the second half kickoff and marched from its own 20 to St. Augustine’s 36 before losing the ball on downs.
The Purple Knights also demonstrated their offensive might by moving from their 36 to Jesuit’s 8-yard line. A 25-yard field goal attempt by Wagner had the needed distance but was off to the left.
Jesuit then struck quickly to put their points on the board. On the second play after the missed field goal, Timmy Parenton faked to Lenny Quick off tackle and handed the ball to Lon McCloskey, who went straight up the middle for 76 yards and the touchdown. Parenton added the extra point and suddenly it was a new ball game.
Taking possession at their 28, the Purple Knights, with Dixon finding Malcolm Scott open for a couple of passes, drove to Jesuit’s 30. Hobbs ran a pattern to the left corner, got behind the defender and Dixon tossed a perfect strike for the go-ahead touchdown with 11:18 remaining in the game. This time Wagner’s kick was side and St. Augustine held a 13-7 lead.
Jesuit then began a drive at its own 16, moved the ball behind Parenton’s passing and McCloskey’s running to St. Aug’s 40. But on the next play Parenton failed to gain control of the snap, fumbled and the Purple Knights John Square pounced on the loose ball.
There was 7:33 remaining and St. Augustine began to play ball control. St. Augustine kept the ball on the ground and marched to Jesuit’s 40 before a holding penalty set them back to their own 39. The Purple Knights had used up almost four minutes on the clock when Wagner punted the ball dead on Jesuit’s one-yard line.
The Blue Jays gambled on first down as Parenton retreated inside his own end zone to launch a pass to Bobby Lewis at the 45. But three plays later Jesuit had to kick. St. Augustine then ran out the clock.
‘We Had Them Where We Wanted’
By HENRI ROCA
There wasn’t a Blue Jay fan that entered the Dome Friday night that thought the spread should have been four-to-one as if it was the last meeting of those two state championship combatants.
St. Augustine had taken a lusty 28-7 win in an earlier District 11-AAAA meeting.
“It was a heck of a ball game,” a somber Billy Murphy concluded later in the locker room. “I thought we had them right where we wanted them both running and throwing, until we laid the ball on the carpet.” Following St. Augustine’s winning touchdown, Jesuit had moved from its 16-yard line to the Knights’ 40 only to lose the ball when Tim Parenton sprinted out and lost the ball.
Parenton, who played out the season with cracked ribs and a broken bone in his hand, could only reflect, “I was trying to hit Charles (Dyrus) on a swing pass but the defensive man stood up my blocker and I was off balance when the hit occurred.”
Jesuit came out running, but on the wrong side. Usually, a right-handed team, behind blockers Henry Schneider and Jimmy Chandler, the Jays ran left. Coach Murphy explained, “Joseph Allen, St. Augustine’s fine nose guard, didn’t play regular – that is, he lined up behind his left guard. After we used a nosetrap on the first play, we went to a counter, or switched, trapping, away from him.” This bit of strategy allowed the Jays to run almost at will inside left behind the blocking of guard Barry Lejeune and Curt Queyrouse. Lon McCloskey got most of the 176 yards rushing with 99 yards on nine carries. McCloskey got the only Jay touchdown on a beautiful 76-yard run untouched through the right side of the St. Augustine line with 3:26 left in the third quarter. Although running left most of the night, the Jays elected to go right behind their two-time All-District linemen Schneider and Chandler, and they came through as Schneider blocked down on the tackle and Chandler broke low to cut down nose guard Joseph Allen.
Jesuit had fallen
behind late in the second quarter when Gregory Hobbs made a 53-yard
reception of Darren Dixon’s bomb, but there’s one Blue Jay who would
like to have it called back. Milt Morrison was knocked off the
receiver at the Jay 35-yard line and he vehemently states, “I was
clipped, not once, but twice. The
first time to knock me off, and again when I got up to pursue.
I thought the official was looking right at me, but, oh well,
it’s all over now. What a game it was!”
'This Championship Definitely Means More'
By BRYAN LAZARE
St. Augustine climaxed its 1978 season in the AAAA championship game in the same manner in which it has played all season.
It would be extremely difficult to pinpoint any one or two heroes as the Purple Knights claimed their second state title in four years with a 13-7 decision over Jesuit in the Superdome Friday night. Malcolm Scott caught two crucial passes, but it was junior Gregory Hobbs on the receiving end of both St. Augustine scoring passes. Darrell Songy, the Knights’ premiere safety, was around at important times but there were other stars on the St. Augustine defense during its brightest hour - Joseph Allen, John Square and Nathaniel Joseph.
Knights’ Coach Otis Washington realized early in the year that his team was really something special. “We don’t have the athletes like that ’75 team, St. Augustine’s other state championship team, but these kids played well together as a group,” said Washington. “That really carried us during the middle part of the regular season when we were struggling a little.
“This championship definitely means more. Simply because this team was not supposed to do anything. I am really happy for the players, coaches, everyone.”
Like the earlier victory over Jesuit, the Knights used their passing attack to score the touchdowns. Hobbs caught aerials of 51 and 30 yards from Darren Dixon – the last on a championship winner. “They were double-teaming Scott like everyone else,” said Hobbs. “The only thing the defense would do was bump me at the line of scrimmage. On the first touchdown, I ran a curl pattern. It was just designed to get first down yardage.
“But the free safety skimmed me and then two other players hit me but they didn’t tackle me. I was able to keep my balance and just took off. The second touchdown was just single coverage and I just beat the cornerback.”
Hobbs’ game-winning catch followed Scott’s only two receptions of the game. Scott gained two first downs on the drive by snagging passes of 12 and 9 yards.
“We felt like we could throw on them,” said Washington. We had people open but just couldn’t hit them in the first half. We figured they would double-cover Scott, so that left Hobbs open.
“But those two catches by Scott were important. The route Scott ran on those two passes were put in special for this game.”
The St. Augustine defense closed its playoff appearance with an impressive record, showing two touchdowns against it in five games. A 76-yard run by Lon McCloskey was the lone imprint by Jesuit. The Knights had to stop fullback Lenny Quick and the inside running game. Quick could only gain 23 yards in seven carries. The Blue Jays ran for 176 yards but most of it came on some counter runs by McCloskey and Dyrus Charles.
“We were worried the option would hurt us,” said Washington. “We wanted to stop the middle so we could concentrate on the outside. The only play they hurt us on was the counter. McCloskey scored on us and Charles picked up some first downs.”
Joseph Allen, the Knights’ All-District nose guard, controlled the middle against Jesuit. Allen set the tone with a jarring tackle of Charles on the Blue Jays’ first offensive play. “We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Allen. “We had to win that fight in the middle. Our middle had to just hold up. It was a matte of which line was gong to come out. We came out.”
The Knights’ defense had other stalwarts. Joseph made many tackles early in the game to help control the Jays from his linebacking position. Square personally ended Jesuit’s last two possessions. First, Square recovered a fumble at the St. Augustine 44. Then an 11-yard sack of Timmy Parenton by Square extinguished Jesuit’s final hope.
So it there were ever a team that should be crowned state champions, it would be the team of St. Augustine High School.