Late interception helps Knights eliminate East St. John, 32-30

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 17, 2009



After five lead changes in the final 16 minutes of play, the St. Augustine defense came through Friday night to stop a late East St. John threat and cement a 32-30 Class 5A bi-district game victory at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium.

“What a great game,” said St. Augustine coach David Johnson. “Nobody wanted to lose this thing.”

Maurice Sutton intercepted East St. John quarterback Kalen Henderson with 1:08 remaining in the game, Sutton’s second pickoff of the night.

From there, St. Augustine (6-4) was able to run out the clock, the final 14 seconds ticking down as the Purple Knight’s Tyrann Mathieu took a fourth down snap out of a punt formation and ran backwards. He’d take an intentional safety after chewing up all remaining time.

Purple Knights quarterback Terry Lucas scored on a 4-yard run with 2:06 remaining to put his team ahead 32-28.

But almost immediately, East St. John threatened to send St. Augustine home unhappy.

On the first play of the Wildcats’ ensuing drive, Kalen Henderson let loose a bomb that found D’haquille Williams in stride downfield for a 58-yard gain. It set up ESJ (7-4) on a first-and-goal from the SA 6.

After a short loss on first down, a bad snap went over Henderson’s head and was recovered at the 19.

“You’ve got it at the 6-yard line, first and goal. You figure it’s your game to win,” said East St. John coach Larry Dauterive. “That kind of miscue, you can’t have it.”

On third down, Henderson’s pass in the endzone intended for Williams was intercepted by Sutton.

Williams finished with two touchdowns and 157 yards on five catches.

“He nearly won it by himself,” said Dauterive. “It was a valiant effort by 12 (Williams).”

Said Johnson: “He must be the best receiver I’ve seen in a long time.”

Lucas accounted for four of St. Augustine’s five touchdowns, passing for two and rushing for two more.

St. Augustine broke a 14-14 tie with 42 seconds left in the third quarter with a touchdown to cap an 11-play drive. Lucas hit Robert Ricard for a 24-yard gain to the ESJ 1, but Ricard fumbled into the endzone. Marc Edwards recovered for the score to make it 20-14. The extra point attempt was no good.

East St. John answered on the first play of its ensuing drive to take the lead. Reynaldo Young took a handoff on the drive’s first play and went the distance, 86 yards to put ESJ ahead 21-20.

Young finished the night with 173 yards on 16 carries.

St. Augustine reclaimed the lead after forcing a poor punt deep in ESJ territory, taking over at the Wildcats 34. It took three plays for Lucas to hook up with Edwards for a 20-yard touchdown, giving St. Augustine a 26-21 lead with 7:04 remaining.

East St. John answered again, driving 55 yards for another go-ahead score. On a third-and-11 play from the St. Augustine 20, Henderson lofted a pass in the endzone to Williams who had a step on his defender – but Williams dropped it.

On fourth down, ESJ called the same play. This time, Williams made the catch of the night, hauling in a pass and getting his feet down just before falling out of bounds.

“We knew he’d catch the next one,” Dauterive said.

St. Augustine rushed for 162 yards on the night, most of it coming in a second half in which the Purple Knights controlled the clock throughout. ESJ ran only seven plays in the third quarter.

“They imposed their will on us in that third quarter,” Dauterive said. “They just ‘big-boyed’ us. Those are some big, big guys on that sideline.”

St. Augustine will host second-seeded West Monroe on Friday night.

While the loss was disappointing to Dauterive, the season was hardly so.

“I’m proud of these kids. Nobody thought we’d win anywhere close to seven games this season. They gave me such a great effort,” said Dauterive.