ESJ battles heat, mistakes in loss to Shaw

Published 6:10 pm Saturday, September 5, 2015

HARVEY — With the heat index hovering around 100 degrees, it was a tough day to be on the field for the East St. John Wildcats, and the scoreboard showed it in their 38-14 loss to the Archbishop Shaw Eagles in the season opener.

Although he tried, East St. John wide receiver Da’Monte Coxie was unable to win the game on his own. Coxie, an LSU commit, came in as quarterback midway through the fourth quarter after starer Alvin Jackson dislocated his finger. With his team down 38-6, Coxie took the snap and rambled for a weaving and winding 80-yard touchdown off a quarterback keeper to narrow the score to 38-14 with a two-point conversion on a sweep by wide receiver C.J. Turner.

“We worked (Coxie at quarterback) this week, just trying to get a different look,” ESJ head coach Alden Foster said of Coxie. “He is just a special kid, wherever you get him the ball he is going to make plays.”

Da'Monte Coxie steps out of a tackle en route to an 80-yard rushing touchdown.

Da’Monte Coxie steps out of a tackle en route to an 80-yard rushing touchdown.

While the play was the last gasp for the Wildcats, it may be a vision of things to come. Coxie will be penciled in as the starter for Thursday’s game versus John Ehret due to Jackson’s injury.

Earlier in the game Coxie also found the end zone on a short pass he took in from 64 yards out, but that play was called back on a hold by the Wildcats. The negated touchdown was just one of a few plays the Wildcats had called back on penalties.

The Wildcats saw other missteps, including a bad snap on a punt resulting in a loss of 30 yards and a ball that slipped off Coxie’s outstretched hand and into that of a Shaw defensive back’s for an interception, which was just one of three turnovers the Wildcats committed in the game.

“We’ve got to quit killing ourselves with mistakes,” Foster said. “This is a good football team, and we are not as bad as we played.”

East St. John’s defense in particular faltered in the face of intense play by Shaw’s tailback Trey Ragas, who had three touchdowns in the game, including scores off a 22-yard run and a 51-yard screen pass.

The Wildcats were briefly able to put aside the mistakes on offense on the last series of the first half with Jackson peppering the field with completed passes. The drive started off with Coxie reeling in a long pass over his shoulder and ended with Turner making back-to-back receptions, including one in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown as time expired for their first score of the game.

While their comeback attempt fell short, the Wildcats never gave up as evidenced by Coxie’s late touchdown.

Foster said he felt the Wildcats had the ability to keep up with Shaw, but they failed to seize the momentum.

“We had opportunities, we had people running wide open at least four times in the first half and we didn’t hit them,” Foster said. “We’ve just got to learn from it. They are a young team, and we’ve just got to come back and learn from it.”