East St. John shuts down Spartans in season finale
The East Ascension Spartans hoped to play the role of spoiler Friday night in their District 5-5A contest with East St. John at Spartan Stadium.
However, it was the visiting team that spoiled a Senior Night celebration by holding the Spartans scoreless until the fourth quarter in a 34-7 win to close out the regular season for both teams.
East Ascension ended its season with an overall record of 2-7 and a 1-4 finish in district play with the loss.
With the win, East St. John ended its regular season with an overall 4-4 record and a 3-2 league mark to finish tied for third in the district with Hahnville. The Wildcats, seeded 27th in the Class 5A state playoffs, will travel to face No. 6 Acadiana, who handed East St. John a 28-21 loss in Week 3, in the bi-district playoff round next week.
“We wanted to come in tonight and try to run the football,” East Ascension head coach John Lambert said. “Avery’s our big dog, and we have to feed him. Avery had a good night, but it was difficult to execute against a team that’s just a little bit bigger than us.”
East Ascension finished with only 131 total yards of offense on the night, 99 of which came on the ground. Junior Avery Williams led the Spartan ground attack with 59 yards on 15 carries. Marcus Bailey collected 27 yards on four totes and Jamarkus Jarvis ran for 14 yards on five carries.
Senior Spartan quarterback Emerson Foster had a 4-for-17 night passing for 32 yards and accounted for the Spartan’s lone touchdown on an 8-yard pass to Bradley Day near the game’s end. Day led the Spartan receiver corps with 15 yards on two catches, while Dustin Day caught one pass for 14 yards.
East St. John finished with 321 yards of offense on the night, 154 of which came through the air. Wildcat quarterback Kelen Henderson completed five of his 13 pass attempts for 144 yards.
Leading receivers for the Wildcats were Reynaldo Young with one catch for 62 yards, Tim Evans with three grabs for 51 yards and Singleton with two grabs for 41 yards.
Senior Alex Singleton led East St. John’s rushing attack with 152 yards on 23 carries and scored three Wildcat touchdowns. Henderson kept the ball 12 times for 61 yards, while Andre Millet carried five times for 58 yards and two scores. DeChris Strong also carried seven times for 39 yards.
East St. John also held the Spartans to only seven first downs in the contest, while amassing 23 of their own.
On defense, junior lineman Q’Dareus Lomas led the Spartans with nine tackles and a sack, while sophomore lineman Wade Julien registered eight tackles on the night. The Spartan defense also caused three fumbles on the night, recovering two.
East St. John quickly registered the game’s first score, ending a 60-yard, 11-play drive when Singleton muscled his way into the end zone on a 9-yard jaunt. Tyler Hazet added the extra-point kick to put the Wildcats ahead, 7-0, with just over eight minutes showing on the clock.
After forcing the Spartans to punt on their first possession, East St. John again found the end zone. After a 62-yard pass completion from Henderson to Young, Singleton punched through the Spartan defense for a 2-yard touchdown run. With Hazet’s extra point, the Spartans found themselves in a 14-0 hole with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats scored their third touchdown on a drive that bled into the second quarter, as Singleton pushed into the end zone from three yards away to up the East St. John lead to 21-0 with Hazet’s successful PAT kick.
East St. John again scored after forcing another Spartan three-and-out drive. Starting from their 44-yard line, the Wildcats reached the Spartan 15 before Millet scored on an off-tackle run right. Hazet toed in the extra point to extend the Wildcat lead to 28-0, which stood as the score at halftime.
The East Ascension defense made a strong stand to open the second half, as they stopped East St. John at the Spartan 12 and eventually forced a turnover on downs at their 25-yard line.
However, the Spartans were unable to capitalize and were forced to punt three plays later.
East St. John capped its scoring in the fourth quarter when Millet ran around the offensive left side for a 34-yard touchdown run. Hazet missed the extra point try, leaving East St. John with a 34-0 advantage with 5:30 remaining in the game.
The Spartans notched their only score of the game on the next possession, as Foster found Bradley Day in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown connection. Combined with Matthew Stafford’s kick, the score capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive for East Ascension and cut the deficit to 34-7 with just over 30 seconds left in the game.
“I thought we played real well in the first quarter, but came out very flat in the second half” East St. John head coach Larry Dauterive said. “They did a good job on defense in the second half. He (Lambert) is battling through a tough year. He’s got a lot of young kids that are getting better and will be better. There’s a lot of talent on that team. They’re in a building process. We’re just happy to come away with a win and to be in the playoffs.”
Lambert praised the effort his team gave during the season, highlighting his 23 senior players who finished their high school careers Friday night.
“These guys all gave their hearts this season,” Lambert said. “I am in no way disappointed in them. I’m proud of each and every one of them. When things got down, they didn’t throw in the towel. They played as hard as they could. They’re young and still learning. Our seniors were great team leaders and I hate that we couldn’t get them further this season.
“We’re getting better every game. We just have some things we need to work on for next season so we can come back better. We have a goal for next season of making it to Week 11, the first round of the playoffs. But I’m extremely proud of our team and our coaching staff for the effort they put forth this season.”