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Lions wind up needing a final defensive stop for 56-49 Class 5A victory over Trojans

You'd think scoring 56 points in a high school football game — in the first three quarters, no less — might create the ability to breathe easy down the stretch.

But the St. Helens Lions weren't able to exhale until the final seconds at Wilson, where the Trojans kept trading blows with them before finally running out of time and offense.

"That's the deal when we play Wilson — we know they never stop, they battle hard," St. Helens coach Cory Young said after his team's 56-49 victory. "It was two teams going back and forth, and it almost came down to the team that had the ball last."

The Lions and Trojans, who combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, had been here before. Just flip the site and circumstances and go back to 2018, when Wilson stormed from behind in the fourth quarter to take the lead at St. Helens, only for the run-heavy Lions to hit three passes in a final-minute drive and pull out a 42-35 win with a Hail Mary in the closing seconds.

On Friday, the Trojans had a chance to return the favor. Down by seven points, they got the ball with 40 seconds remaining. Problem was, they got it at their 9-yard line.

They did advance to their 45 and still had 30 seconds to make something huge happen, but St. Helens' defense stiffened as the Lions were able to get pressure on Wilson quarterback Hunter Davis and keep him from being able to complete a comeback.

Wilson ran out of downs with 13 seconds to go, and the Lions took a knee to run out the clock and improve to 2-2 with their second win in a row.

Wilson (0-4) played from behind nearly all night — but never was out of it.

"Just like last year," St. Helens quarterback Jakob Robbins said of the repeat battle.

The Trojans scored first on a play that was as wild as the Class 5A Special District 1 West Division game turned out to be. Davis rolled all the way to the left sideline in front of the Wilson homecoming crowd and then tried to launch a pass on first-and-goal from the 6. The Lions' rush was in perfect position and got a paw on the ball like a solid block at the net in volleyball.

The ball caromed back to Davis, however, and he made the catch and then barged into the end zone, Davis to Davis for the score.

The Lions scored two touchdowns in the closing 4:17 of the first quarter, however, for a 14-7 lead, and for the rest of the night scoring plays were pretty much like a game of Ping Pong.

Wilson pulled even at 14-14, but the Lions built a 35-14 lead with 1:10 left in the second quarter.

The Trojans pulled to within 35-21 when Davis hit JayShaunn Avritt for 37 yards with 41 seconds to play in the half.

Wilson opened the second half with an onside kickoff, and kicker Gavin Martini recovered it. The Trojans drove for a touchdown, then tried another onside kick, and Martini came up with the ball again. That led to another Wilson TD, and a point-after that cut St. Helens' lead to 35-34.

The Lions boosted their lead to 43-34 on Robbins' 26-yard pass to Chayton Leake-Morrison.

Then St. Helens appeared to onside-kick — and got the ball, which set up another score, a 6-yard Robbins run for a 49-34 lead.

Lions coach Young said it wasn't an onside kick, but instead was an attempted squib kick that didn't go very far before it went off a Wilson player.

The Trojans weren't done. Davis and Avritt combined for a 33-yard touchdown that got them within 49-41 with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter.

St. Helens came right back. Jacob Allen raced 53 yards for a two-play TD drive and a 56-41 lead with two seconds left in the third quarter.

Davis' fifth touchdown pass of the night, a 1-yarder to Cole Thomas, cut the Lions' advantage to 56-49 with 7:42 on the clock.

But the Trojans couldn't get the equalizer or winner as they fell to 0-4.

"It was the most intense game I've ever been in. At times it felt like we could do everything we wanted to, and then they would just come back down the field," St. Helens lineman Alden Finch said. "But this team, we know how to fight, and we just keep fighting until the game is over."

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