Stockman’s fumble recovery seals 30-25 win for ESJ

Published 4:05 am Saturday, October 26, 2013

By Lori Lyons
Contributing Writer

RESERVE – Don’t try and tell East St. John coach Phil Banko that his team’s 30-25 victory over Thibodaux wasn’t pretty.
Sure there were a flurry of penalty flags, several miscues that almost certainly cost the Wildcats points and one costly mistake that gave Thibodaux a touchdown. But from where Banko is sitting – or where his team is sitting — Friday night’s win looks pretty good. For one thing, it made for a nice homecoming celebration. For another, it kept the Wildcats undefeated in District 7-5A play and kept their hopes of capturing at least a share of the district title alive.
“That’s a good way to win,” Banko said. “That’s a playoff caliber team. We’re 5-0 (in district) right now, that’s what y’all are telling me, and it feels real sweet.”
Banko also was pretty happy with the play of quarterback Xavier Lewis and running back Nigel Anderson. The only two players to run with the football all night, together they accounted for 393 yards on 52 carries. Anderson scored one touchdown on an 8-yard run in the second quarter. Lewis scored two – a 1-yard run in the third quarter and a 48-yard run in the fourth. Lewis also passed for 102 yards and another touchdown – a 38-yarder to Kyle Patterson in the final period. Only four receivers caught passes, including Anderson.
“They make us look like good coaches, don’t they?” Banko said. “And how about the guys trying to block for them? They were making plays and we’re very excited.”
Both also were playing on sore ankles. Anderson said he injured his last week against Hahnville and suffered with it all week during practice. And even he was stunned by the amount of touches he got Friday.
“I didn’t know it was going to shake like that,” Anderson said. “I’m blessed. They just kept giving me the ball. I was shocked.”
Lewis said he injured his ankle late in Friday’s game while playing defense on a critical stop for the Wildcats.
It was not long after the injury, which occurred when a Thibodaux player stepped on the back of his ankle, as the Wildcats forced Thibodaux to turn the ball over on downs with 10:38 remaining in the game, that Lewis broke free for a 48-yard touchdown that put the Wildcats ahead 30-19.
“It hurt real bad” he said. “I just had to shake it off. I had to, for my team.”
It was a needed score.
Thibodaux, probably playing for its playoff life, did not go down without a fight. After a scoreless first quarter, East St. John took a 10-0 lead in the second period with a 36 yard field goal by Antonio Barrera and Anderson’s 8-yard score with 3:28 remaining in the first half.
Thibodaux cut the lead to 10-6 when Donta Johnson capped a 78-yard drive by scoring on a 3-yard run with 1:28 remaining in the first half. The Tigers carried that momentum into the second half with its opening drive. Thibodaux drove 65 yards on just three plays, not counting the half-back throw-back attempt that went for naught on the first play from scrimmage. A similar play on third down had Johnson connecting with Peyton Bonvillain for 36 yards. Then Bonvillain found tight end DeVaughn Brown for a 29-yard touchdown, with Brown fighting his way into the end zone at the end. That gave Thibodaux a 13-10 lead with 10:28 remaining in the third quarter.
East St. John answered with a 12-play 70 yard drive capped by Lewis’ 1-yard run with 6:28 remaining. After a Thibodaux punt, the Wildcats were driving again when Lewis attempted a pitch at the Tigers’ 30-yard line. It landed right in the hands of Thibodaux’s Amik Robertson, who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 19-17 lead
But Lewis and Anderson were not to be stopped. Together they drove the Wildcats 75 yards on 12 plays, capped with Lewis’ 38-yard pass to Patterson in the first minute of the final period to put East St. John ahead 24-19.
After that, the East St. John defense stiffened. It forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs with 10:48 remaining, with Lewis getting hurt while defending the final incompletion. With Lewis dinged, the Wildcats failed to move the ball and punted four plays later. East St. John’s defense stood again and forced a Thibodaux punt with 7:15 remaining.
On the first play from scrimmage, Lewis shook off his injury and raced up the left side for 48 yards and a touchdown. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty forced Barrera to kick the PAT from the 35-yard line to give East St. John a 30-19 lead.
But Thibodaux wasn’t done. Johnson returned the kickoff to the Tigers 48-yard line. Thibodaux took 10 plays to score, aided by an East St. John personal foul call and a pass interference penalty. On first-and-goal from the 16, Bonvillain connected with Brown for his second touchdown of the night.
The next four minutes were a flurry of flags on both teams. A total of six penalties were called, one of which wiped out a 47-yard touchdown run by Anderson. East St. John finished the night with 17 penalties for 146 yards. Thibodaux had seven for 64 yards. East St. John finally punted from the Thibodaux 42 with 35 seconds remaining.
With 22 seconds to make something happen, the Tigers attempted a flea-flicker, but the backwards toss hit the ground and East St. John’s Davarian Stockman recovered to seal the win.
and to punt with 7:15 remaining. It was then that Lewis broke free to score an insurance touchdown on a 48-yard run.