ESJ falls to Hahnville

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2005

Tiger defense stifles Wildcat quarterbacks Johnny Thiel and Ricky Dixon


Managing Editor

LAPLACE — The two teams were almost evenly matched, but in the most important stat, Hahnville High came out on top of East St. John Friday night with a 33-25 quarterfinal playoff win.

&#8220I read the screen right, and it fell right in my hands It was perfect!” said Hahnville linebacker Corey Hawkins, describing his interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter for, what turned out to be the winning points. Those heroics, combined three safeties scored against the Wildcats, which blew the heart out of the home crowd fans, some of whom left the game early.

&#8220The defense was outstanding,” Hahnville coach Lou Valdin observed after the game. &#8220I don’t know who we’re playing, but at least we’re playing somebody!”

With the win, Hahnville is set to play Acadiana in a Class 5A semifinal match-up.

East St. John looked to be in trouble from the start. The Wildcats took in the opening kickoff, but that first possession ended when Johnny Owen was nabbed in the end zone for HHS’s first two points.

On Hahnville’s first offensive possession, on the very first play from scrimmage, Early-Larry James nailed Laron Byrd for a touchdown with 9:40 on the first quarter clock and a 9-0 lead after the Robbie Broach PAT.

East St. John rallied and Ricky Dixon scored on a 21-yard scramble with 7:04 remaining in the first. With Radi Jabouri’s PAT, the Wildcats trailed by only 9-7.

However, the Hahnville defense stepped it up a notch and posted Johnnie Thiel in the end zone for a second safety, giving HHS an 11-7 edge with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter.

Into the second quarter, the battle for field position kept both squads on their toes, nose-to-nose. Finally, with 5:28 left in the half, James scored on a two-yard scramble, which capped a 58-yard drive. With the PAT, this put Hahnville out ahead 18-7.

But the Wildcats had plenty of heart, and clawed their way 80 yards on the next drive, which ended with a touchdown pass to Roy James with 2:10 left in the half. The PAT ws good and Hahnville held onto an 18-14 lead.

And the Wildcats stayed nipping at the Tigers’ tails, when Jabouri posted a 41-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to the half, sending the squads into halftime with Hahnville clinging to a fragile 18-17 lead.

The third quarter continued the field position war until Jeremy Barnes scored on a four-yard scramble with 51 seconds left in the period. The PAT was good, and Hahnville was boosted to a 25-17 lead.

The fourth quarter was disastrous all the way around, with Cory Hawkins scoring his interception return for a touchdown with a scant 10 seconds off the clock. The point after failed but the Tigers had gone up for a 31-17 advantage.

Then, halfway through the final period, East St. John’s Ricky Dixon was caught in the end zone by the relentless HHS defense for a third safety and the Tigers’ 33-17 lead.

East St. John still had heart and determination, as Dixon connected on a long pass to Louis Lee for another Wildcat touchdown with 5:29 remaining in the game. A two-point PAT run by Dixon edged the total to 33-25, and it was still anyone’s game to win.

Hahnville ran down the clock as well as they could, but had to finally surrender the ball on downs with 1:35 remaining in the game.

One pass got the ball to the Hahnville 34. Another was directed to the end zone, but Shaine Boyle of Hahnville snared the ball instead for the interception, which capped the game and sealed the fate of the East St. John Wildcats.

In the stats, East St. John led 15-11 on first downs and both teams gained 183 passing yards. East John John led on rushing yards, 93-68 and lost fewer yards on penalties.

Hahnville had the edge on time of possession, 25:58 to 22:02. James was also the top rusher with 40 yards. Brian Singleton gained 83 yards and Laron Byrd had 79 yards to lead the HHS rushing effort.

East St. John’s Johnny Owen rushed for 71 yards. Ricky Dixon accounted for 40 yards rushing and 58 yards passing, as well as 68 yards receiving.

&#8220It’s always a slugfest,” Valdin said later.