Wildcats struggle offensively in loss to Scotlandville

Published 3:16 am Saturday, September 14, 2013

By Jeff Barrois
Contributing Writer

East St. John’s early season offensive woes continued Friday night.
 The Wildcats turned the ball over three times and were only able to muster a mere 45 yards of offense in their loss to the Scotlandville Hornets, 21-7, in ESJ’s home opener at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium.
“They beat us, hands down,” said a frustrated Coach Philip Banko after the loss, “Scotlandville gave it to us, we could not punch it in.”
The Wildcats struggled with turnovers early ending their first drive ending on a lost fumble. Later in the first half an interception thrown by quarterback Xavier Lewis gave Scotlandville a short field, and on the very next play they scored on a 20-yard Henry Taylor touchdown pass to running back Dontrail Hilliard. The extra point failed, and the Hornets jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
The Wildcats took the lead after a blocked punt and recovery by senior Mikel Stepler, and they themselves were able to capitalize on a short field as they put together a four-play 12-yard drive finished off by a 2-yard Lewis touchdown run.
But the Hornets opened the second half with another body blow, scoring on a 10-play 75-yard touchdown drive highlighted by a 39-yard connection from Taylor to receiver Clifford Wise and finished off by a two yard Taylor keeper. The ensuing two-point conversion was good as well, and Scotlandville took a 14-7 lead and never looked back.
In the third quarter, Junior running back Nigel Anderson left the game and did not return causing a shuffle in the East St. John offense. Senior Gerald Munoz took over at quarterback, and Xavier Lewis moved out to wide receiver.
Early in the 4th quarter, Munoz nearly tied the game up with a touchdown pass to senior Jacob McNeil on 4th and 17, but the pass was dropped.
The Hornets scored once more after a six-minute clock killing drive that ended in another Hilliard score, this time from 40 yards out.
While the Wildcat offense has shown sparks of brilliance, they have very little to show for it having only scored once in their last two games.
The Wildcat defense also had some brilliant moments of their own coming up with an interception by senior Leonard Harris and five sacks, including two by senior Darren Williams.
The Wildcats will face an angry John Curtis team next Friday who are themselves coming off of a loss on Friday night to St. Thomas Aquinas of Florida.