Wildcats pull away late for win over New Iberia, 56-22

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thiel and Owen account for seven touchdowns


Sports Editor

RESERVE – East St. John was tested as the first seed in the first round of the 5A football playoffs, but used a healthy dose of Johnnie Thiel and Johnny Owen to post 35 second half points for a bi-district win over New Iberia.

It appeared that it would be a runaway score early when the Wildcats took a 14-0 lead over the Yellow Jackets in the first quarter. Owen got ESJ on the board first when he broke free for a 72-yard touchdown run. After forcing New Iberia to punt, the Wildcats took the ball just shy of mid-field and marched it to the goal line where Thiel got his first of two rushing TDs. He also threw for two touchdowns.

New Iberia found some daylight on their next possession though, as running back Vetric Sam busted loose for a 73-yard TD run. The Yellow Jacket offense got themselves into position late in the second quarter, but stalled just outside the red zone. A field goal attempt resulted in a broken play after a low snap and an improvised pass was picked off by ESJ’s Dwayne Franics to set up the Wildcat offense with time winding down for the half. East St. John got it into the end zone with :30 left on the clock when Theil connected with Jarred Sterling for a 9-yard TD pass for a 21-7 lead.

New Iberia found themselves right back into the game when they took the kickoff return to their own 45-yard line, setting up a six-play drive that resulted in Sam’s second TD of the night.

As upset crept into the Yellow Jackets minds, ESJ went from the brink of turning the ball over with a three-and-out to putting their game out of reach. All on one play.

Starting at their own 40-yard line, the Wildcats found themselves on third-and-11 after two plays. But then, Thiel hooked up with Sterling for another touchdown pass, this one a 50-yarder. That made it 28-14 and opened up the floodgates for the Wildcat offense as they would score three more TDs before the game’s end.

Owen and Thiel scored one apiece before the end of the third quarter while Joshuelle Tuesno picked up the last one with a 42-yard burst.

ESJ advances to face Lafayette with the win, but drew a road game because the Lions have been on the road for the last two weeks. The Wildcats remain undefeated on the year and are looking to win their first football state championship since 1980 when they had a perfect season.