East St. John ‘D’ makes big plays in win over HHS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 6, 2010


RESERVE – Fresh off of what would essentially be a loss to determine the District 6-5A championship against Dutchtown last week, East St. John set out to make a statement against rival Hahnville this week.

Mission accomplished — the Wildcats head into the playoffs loud and proud, thanks to a decisive 41-16 district victory over the Tigers at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium.

“Last week, we had guys taking a play off here, a play off there. You never know when that’s going to be the play that costs you,” said East St. John coach Ronald Barrilleaux. “Tonight, it didn’t happen. It was our best (defensive) effort by far.”

Nathan Anderson’s 100-yard interception return denied Hahnville a potential touchdown and essentially slammed the door on the Tigers’ comeback effort in the fourth quarter. He broke on an out pattern as Hahnville faced a third-and-goal from the ESJ 5 and took the resulting interception the distance down the left sideline with 7:07 left in the game, making it 35-16.

It was Anderson’s first career interception.

“I just never had that opportunity before, but it was the one thing that was missing,” said Anderson. “I saw it coming, the way they were lined up … I knew he wasn’t going to throw it inside.”

It was the second of two interception returns for scores, the other coming via defensive tackle Dathan Thomas, who secured his pickoff and score on a screen pass gone wrong for Hahnville (7-3, 3-2).

Darion Monroe accounted for four touchdowns and D’haquille Williams hauled in a pair of scores.

East St. John (9-1, 4-1) led 14-10 at halftime, but Hahnville embarked on a 10-play drive deep into ESJ territory to begin the second half.

But on that 10th play, the Wildcats made a big play defensively when Hahnville quarterback Brian Ensminger was pressured on a screen pass attempt; his throw would find its way into the hands of Thomas, who rumbled 75-yards for a score to make it 21-10 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

“He’s awesome,” said Monroe. “He’s a running back in a big guy’s body.”

The rest of the third quarter would be scoreless, but Hahnville finally set up an answer on the second to last play of the period when Ensminger hooked up with tight end Desvon Joseph down the seam of the ESJ defense for a 63 yard gain — Joseph made good after dropping a pass on an earlier Hahnville drive that could have resulted in a similar gain. Ahmad White plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown two plays later to make it 21-16. Hahnville’s two-point attempt was no good when Ensminger bobbled the snap and ESJ stopped him for a loss.

The Wildcats marched down and answered right back. Williams — who often lined up in the backfield as a tailback on this night — converted a key first down on a third-and-two rush at the ESJ 43, then again on a fourth-and-six run at the HHS 27. Twice on the drive, Monroe gunned passes into the endzone that were broken up. But on his third attempt, Williams hauled in a Monroe rainbow that resulted in a 19-yard touchdown with 8:26 left.

Hahnville dialed up Joseph again for another huge gain of 55 yards, and a 20-yard Ensminger pass to Dontrell Strickland set Hahnville up at the ESJ 5.

But then Anderson stepped up with his biggest play of the season, on a night that the Wildcats defense put forth its most complete performance.

“We knew at halftime that we had to step it up,” said Anderson. “We couldn’t have a repeat of Dutchtown.”

Said Monroe: “It’s such a huge lift. The defense showed up big tonight.”

He added, with a smile: “Now they can talk some junk at practice.”

ESJ scored on its first possession of the night on a Monroe to Williams 11-yard fade, set up by Williams’ 39-yard reception on a streak.

Hahnville answered on its second possession, taking advantage of good field position off of a shanked punt at its own 46. It went eight plays, scoring on a White 1-yard touchdown to tie the game with 11:26 left in the first half.

ESJ responded immediately with a 13-play drive capped by a Monroe 3-yard run.

Austin Freman tacked on a 39-yard field goal before halftime.