East St. John’s big-play offense broke South Lafourche’s hearts on Friday night in the Bayou District opener for both teams.
With the Tarpons on top 34-28 in the final seconds of the back and forth battle, Wildcats quarterback Nigel Anderson connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to athlete and LSU commitment Xavier Lewis – a score that dropped Memorial Stadium from rowdy to silent in the blink of an eye.
The touchdown and subsequent extra point came with just 4 seconds on the clock – enough to secure a 35-34 comeback win for East St. John.
The loss drops South Lafourche to 1-3 on the season and 0-1 in district play.
“What a great, great high school football game,” Tarpons coach Dennis Skains said. “You can’t take anything away from East St. John. They have some special, college-level football players on their team. We did a good job holding them down at times, but they also ripped off a few big plays and unfortunately for us, that’s what ended up being the difference in the game.”
In the early stages of Friday’s game, it didn’t look like the Wildcats would need heroics to secure a win.
South Lafourche scored first on a 70-yard strike from quarterback Dominick Fillinich to Cullen Matherne to take a 7-0 first quarter lead.
But following that strike, the Tarpons’ offense went cold and the Wildcats scored 21 unanswered points throughout the rest of the half to earn a 21-7 halftime lead.
“We were sitting there at halftime and (offensive coordinator) Jared Landrum kept telling me, ‘You know, Coach, we’re so close to connecting,’” Skains said. “He kept telling me that we had receivers open all over the field and just were either dropping the ball or throwing it a little over their heads.”
In the second half, the connection was made and South Lafourche’s offense caught fire for the first time this season.
The Tarpons pushed the score to 21-14 in the third quarter when Fillinich hit Shakerrin Dillon on a 52-yard strike – the first touchdown of the young receiver’s varsity career.
After an East St. John fumble on the next possession, South Lafourche cut the lead to 21-20 when senior Peyton Guidry piled into the end zone from eight yards out.
Not willing to give in, East St. John answered back and pushed the game to 28-20 on a scoring run by Lewis – a touchdown that came in the fourth quarter.
Backs against the wall, South Lafourche made a dash for the finish line, getting two late touchdowns – to take a 34-28 lead with less than 90 seconds in the game.
Eric Vegas punched in the first score from seven yards out, which cut the lead to 28-26 following an unsuccessful 2-point conversion try. The second came on a 45-yard pass from Fillinich to Harvey Allen on a deep ball that was first tipped by a Wildcats defender and then snagged by the young Tarpons’ receiver who sprinted into the end zone.
This time, the Tarpons successfully completed the 2-point play to go up six points.
That set the stage for the Wildcats’ final drive, which broke the team’s spirits and ended the Tarpons’ hopes for victory.
Skains said he was proud of the way his team fought back from its deficit. But he added that the Tarpons need to win some close games going forward if they want to turn their season around.
“We fought hard and competed until the end, but there are no consolation prizes,” Skains said. “We’re proud of the effort and thought we played a pretty good game. It’s good to see your kids come back from a 21-7 hole because it shows you that they are still buying in to what you’re coaching. But it’s like we told the kids, at some point, we need to quit telling them that we’re proud of their effort and start telling them that we’re happy they won a tough game. We need to win a couple of these tight ones that will be coming up in the next games.”
Notes: On a late-game extra point, South Lafourche player Ashton Danos was injured and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher – an injury that caused about a 10 minute delay in the game.
Skains confirmed Sunday afternoon that Danos was released from Lady of the Sea General Hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. Skains said that Danos was able to move his arms and legs immediately after the injury.
“He had a concussion and he blacked out for a couple of seconds on the field,” Skains said. “Our trainers just were very cautious and wanted to make sure that he was taken care of properly. I went visit him at the hospital after the game and besides for some headaches, he seems to be doing fine. “We don’t expect him to go Friday, but he should be back the next Friday night versus Central.”
The Tarpons return to the field Friday night against Terrebonne.
Posted on Tue, October 1, 2013