Lewis improvises game-winner, lifts East St. John in O.T.

Published 3:15 am Saturday, October 4, 2014


MATHEWS — In each of East St. John’s last two visits to Lafourche Parish, the home team gave the Wildcats all they could handle.

And in each of those games, coach Phillip Banko’s team emerged with a victory.

Xavier Lewis scored a 1-yard touchdown in overtime to seal the deal in East St. John’s 21-18 win over Central Lafourche Friday, moving the Wildcats to 2-0 in District 7-5A play.

“When Xavier scored that touchdown, well, I probably jumped two inches,” Banko said. “But I felt like I was four feet in the air … It’s tough to win up here, to win road games in our district. We came into a hostile environment and were able to fight through adversity to earn a big win.”

Last season, the Wildcats (3-2, 2-0) emerged from a battle with South Lafourche with a 35-34 win before beating Central Lafourche decisively. This year, the roles were flipped for the Lafourche teams, ESJ winning 50-19 over South Lafourche last week before winning over the Trojans in overtime Friday.

Lewis scored on an attempted quarterback sneak up the middle, but Central Lafourche stuffed that option. Instead, Lewis improvised, bouncing the play outside and finding the endzone.

That game winner was set up by a 9-yard run by Ahmani Martin on ESJ’s first offensive play of overtime.

Earlier in overtime, the Wildcats defense came up with a key stop, holding the Trojans to a field goal after Central Lafourche (3-2, 1-1) had second-and-goal from the 1.

The big play there came when linebacker Nigel Anderson broke through the line and forced a fumble, nearly leaving Central Lafourche with no points at all. The Trojans recovered and kicked a short field goal.

Anderson, the Wildcats’ starting running back, rotates in defensively when needed. Overtime qualified.

“He blitzed the A-gap and made a play, and it forced them to kick it,” Banko said. “Nigel’s explosive. He played linebacker as a sophomore and was one of the best in the state. He’s a baller, plain and simple. You put him in there, and he’s going to get the job done.”

Lewis and Anderson each scored touchdowns in regulation, the former scoring on a fourth down on a 16-yard run, and the latter punching in a 1-yard score.

Central Lafourche trailed 15-12 before Logan Maronge hit a 32-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. The Trojans rallied from a 15-6 deficit to tie things up.

Since dropping its opener to Rummel, East St. John has won three of its last four games.

Entering Friday’s game, Banko was concerned about run containment issues over the past few games. Central Lafourche’s “Thunder and Lightning” running back tandem of Da’Quan Gray and Thomas Wesley each scored a touchdown, but Banko was pleased with how ESJ kept them contained.

“We created pressure on the line and harassed them pretty good,” Banko said. “Daniel Ellis, Alton Robinson, we had a couple guys get in there for sacks as well. This was a really good win.”