47 AND COUNTING
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
East St. John Coach Larry Dauterive told his players that there was no reason to hang their heads on Friday night. But their frustration was clear, on their faces, and in their words.
Because they knew that Bastrop would be leaving – perhaps even escaping — Joe Keller Stadium with their winning streak intact, at 47 games.
East St. John led late, but defending 4A champion Bastrop survived, notching a 22-18 win in Reserve.
The Rams (2-0), the No. 4 ranked team nationally by Rivals.com, shook off a 12-0 halftime deficit to go ahead 22-18 on a 7-yard scoring run by running back Dwight Hawkins with 4:13 remaining in the game. That play was set up by a 67-yard strike from quarterback Reuben Randle to Rodney Heard, on Bastrop’s first play after East St. John took an 18-14 lead.
“I’m proud of my kids. I feel like they deserved a better fate,” said East St. John Coach Larry Dauterive. “There’s a reason Bastrop’s won those titles, though.”
The Wildcats (0-2) led 12-0 at halftime and rushed for 211 yards – including 130 yards by ESJ star rusher Alex Singleton — against a Bastrop defensive line that includes Michigan commitment DeQuinta Jones and LSU commitment Josh Downs.
“Our best defense was to keep their offense off the field. That was the whole focus for us, maintaining ball control,” said Dauterive. “It’s not pretty, and it’s not my style. But it was the most effective plan for us.”
Count Bastrop Coach Brad Bradshaw as among the impressed.
“We haven’t been down like that since the semifinals in 2005,” he said. “Larry Dauterive’s one of the best offensive coaches in this state, and they knew how to attack us. They’re bigger than we are up front, and they forced our linebackers to try and tackle (Singleton).
“And unless you’re an SEC linebacker, you won’t tackle him one on one.”
He also had high praise for Wildcats’ offensive tackle Patrick Lewis.
“He’s the best we’ve ever played against,” Bradshaw said.
Neither team generated a score in the first quarter. But that changed with 9:15 left in the second quarter, when the Wildcats’ Anthony Dawson recovered a fumble by Randle in the endzone for a touchdown.
East St. John’s next possession mirrored it’s second of the game, when the Wildcats drove to the Bastrop 22 but emerged with no points. This time, a 13-yard Singleton run on second-and-20 set ESJ up with two chances to score from the Bastrop 7. But the Rams held the Wildcats to a yard.
After Bastrop fizzled out on its next drive, East St. John was pinned back on its own 25 – but not for long. After a short gain, ESJ quarterback Kalen Henderson found Reynaldo Young wide open down field, and he would be tackled at the Bastrop 18 for a 55-yard gain.
Two plays later, Henderson found Tim Evans, who bulldozed his way over a tackler for a 15-yard score to make it 12-0. A two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Young intercepted Randle’s last pass attempt of the half, and it seemed the Wildcats had all the momentum when he returned the second half kickoff to the Bastrop 41. But a holding penalty negated that, and set ESJ back to the 11.
The Wildcats went three-and-out, and Randle’s return of a Henderson punt had Bastrop starting on the ESJ 25.
“That killed us,” Dauterive said with exasperation. “That hold was one of the keys. We had poor field position for that entire third quarter.
Two penalties put Bastrop at the ESJ 7, and the Rams made good as Hawkins rushed for his first touchdown of the game. The two-point attempt was no good, making it 12-6.
East St. John was three-and-out on its next series, and Bastrop would start on its own 47. On the eighth play of the drive, Randle hit Heard on a screen for a 24-yard score. Randle found Kentavious Alford for the two-pointer to make it 14-12.
“We had some bad field position, then we gave it right back to them,” Singleton said. “Those are points we gave them on our offense.”
Dauterive called upon Todd Muse on the next possession, putting he and Singleton in the same backfield. He ran for 37 yards on the drive, and Henderson capped it off with a scoring sneak from the Bastrop 1 to make it 18-14 with 7:50 remaining. The two-pointer was no good.
But Bastrop took the deciding lead on its next possession, and then stopped the Wildcats on their final drive.
And that means the streak marches on. But don’t tell that to Bradshaw.
“I’m not worried about (the streak),” he said. “I’m just glad we get out of here with a win.”