Thibodaux turns back ESJ in 4th quarter

Published 4:26 am Saturday, October 25, 2014


THIBODAUX — Turnovers reared their ugly head again for East St. John Friday night, and unfortunately for the Wildcats, so too did a loss.

Two critical second half turnovers by ESJ gave Thibodaux the momentum it needed to secure a 35-21 win at home in a District 7-5A showdown.

Thibodaux quarterback Peyton Bonvillian and tailback Jaquan Chenier combined to rush for 251 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Tigers offense.

“The biggest challenge for us coming in was to take care of the football, and we didn’t do it tonight,” East St. John coach Phillip Banko said. “We were in the game throughout. A couple of plays here or there and maybe we’re looking at a different result. But we fumble away a kickoff, then we do it again on a running play later on. You can’t dig a hole and give them that kind of help.”

East St. John (4-4. 3-2) had chances to shift the tide in its favor. A fumble on a high kickoff to begin the second half allowed Thibodaux to extend its 14-7 halftime lead to 21-7 on a Bonvillian 39-yard touchdown run.

Xavier Lewis pulled ESJ back within a touchdown when he connected with Jarrod Jackson for a 34-yard touchdown pass on the Wildcats’ ensuing drive. The Tigers blocked the ESJ extra point, making it 21-13.

Amik Robertson’s fourth down touchdown run of 5 yards made it a two-score game again, putting Thibodaux (7-1, 4-1) ahead 28-13. Xavier Lewis rushed for a 3-yard score on ESJ’s next possession, set up by Lewis’ 48-yard completion to Dontrell Allen. Lewis ran in a two-point conversion to make it 28-21.

But after a defensive stop, ESJ’s second turnover after halftime proved most costly. A Wildcats fumble led to Chenier’s 5-yard touchdown run, and ESJ couldn’t score again.

Banko said the ESJ defense did a good job of holding strong against a veteran Tigers defensive front for most of the night.

“You look at their offensive line, and its all seniors,” Banko said. “We made some critical stops that gave us a chance to come back. We’re replaced our entire defensive line from last year, and I thought a lot of our guys showed they’re growing up.”

Still, Banko said, the loss stings. With undefeated Destrehan looming in the season’s final week for ESJ, next week’s matchup with Terrebonne is a must-win.

“If we want to go to the playoffs, we have to beat Terrebonne,” Banko said. “We’ve lost a couple in a row. We’ll lick our wounds and get back to work. We’re 4-4 and we want to be 5-4.”