ESJ defeats Destrehan 14-13

Published 11:22 am Saturday, October 19, 2019

DESTREHAN – East St. John coach Brandon Brown called Friday night’s 14-13 win over Destrehan “program changing.”

It was the first time an East St. John team beat the down-the-road Wildcats since 2012, and game at a perfect time for the Reserve ‘Cats, who improve to 5-2, 2-1. But for the third year in a row, one point decided the outcome. In this case, it was a missed extra point by Destrehan’s backup kicker.

“It was unbelievable,” an emotional East St. John coach Brandon Brown said. “I told my kids this was a must-win. We’ve got to give it our all every time we touch the ball. I’m just proud of our guys. That’s a state championship program right there. When we talk about the top teams in the state, we’ve got to talk about Destrehan. For us to come in here, in a hostile environment and win this game, it’s unbelievable. It’s a program defining win.”

East St. John finished with 16 rushing yards, but quarterback Sean Shelby passed for 122 and one touchdown. Calvin Gardner ran for another score. More importantly, Alexis Reyes made both of his extra points.

And East St. John’s defense came through every time it needed to, stopping Destrehan drives with an interception by Antonio Sanders, forcing three punts and forcing Destrehan to turn the ball over on downs three times, including the final play of the game.

Destrehan played mostly without its season starting quarterback Damarius Jackson, going with freshman Jai Eugene instead. That left the Wildcats to rely almost exclusively on Edwards. Destrehan also was without its regular kicker. Jackson did enter the game late and threw a touchdown pass to Quincy Brown with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but the PAT kick was no good, leaving Destrehan trailing 14-13.

Destrehan went on a desperation drive in the game’s final minute to try to regain the lead, but on fourth-and-5 at the East St. John 31, East St. John junior Jackie Marshall sacked Jackson as time expired to seal the win.

“Coach always tells us, ‘Big time players make big time plays,’” said Marshall, a first-year starter, who had three sacks on the night. It feels good. Seven years? Seven years.”

Robicheaux, who is trying to right the ship after back-to-back losses, praised his opponent.

“My hat’s off to them,” he said. “They did a good job defensively. When they had to, they brought down the pressure and got it done.”

Destrehan took the early lead on a 27-yard touchdown run by Alabama commitment Kyle Edwards. The bruising back hit the pile, moved it for a few yards, then scooted outside to sprint for the end zone.

But East St. John answered with a 61-yard drive helped by a roughing the passer penalty that wiped out a Destrehan interception and gave East St. John the ball at the Destrehan 18. Four plays later, Calvin Gardner ran in from the 2 to tie the game at 7 with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.

East St. John’s defense continually backed up Destrehan’s offense in the second quarter. Destrehan had third-and-39 at its own 48 with 9:30 remaining in the half when East St. John’s Antonio Sanders intercepted Eugene’s pass and returned it to the 37. Five plays later, Dontrae Fleming outjumped a Destrehan defender for a 19-yard touchdown pass from Sean Shelby. Alexis Reyes’ PAT gave East St. John a 14-7 lead with 6:28 remaining.