It was a game where the classic ABC show “Wide World of Sports” could have found video for both their “Thrill of Victory” and the “Agony of Defeat” opening shots in the same game.
Following Phillip Stratton's game-winning extra point in overtime giving Destrehan a wild 35-34 homecoming win over East St. John, the moods on each sideline could not have been more different.
“We're just lucky to get out of here with a win, no doubt,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “It was a great district matchup we knew the team they had, coach (Alden) Foster did a tremendous job, they have tremendous athletes we're just lucky to get out of here with a win.”
Stratton's heroics followed a game-tying touchdown pass in overtime from J.R. Blood to a wide-open Carson Rieder and after Stratton missed a short field goal attempt just moments earlier with 0:09 left in regulation .
“Not necessarily jubilation, I would say I made up for my mistake and that was my important thing,” said Stratton. “I came back and I bounced back from my mistake and that's what I wanted to focus on.”
As far as East St. John was concerned that play should have never happened. On the play before Destrehan's game-tying touchdown, it appeared that East St. John's Javon Antonio had recovered a fumble but the play was whistled down and to make matters worse, a personal foul was called on East St. John after the play. Foster fell to the ground in disbelief when the call was explained to him and was still emotional following the game.
“Great football game and for it to come down to a call like that at the end and the referees to get involved and the bad part about it, it's after the play was over, when he sees us with the ball. Then you're going to blow (the whistle)?. My hat's off to both teams. That's River Parish Football. That's what your website is about. I just hate it that (the officials) got involved in a great football game.
“It was no doubt Javon took it and took off, then the referee blew the whistle then he threw a flag and gave them half the distance to the goal (line) on top of that. They called him down. The kid even knew he fumbled, because he was holding his head. Number 4 he's a great football player John Emery, he knew he fumbled he was holding his head. And I hate to put it on a referee and I hate that it came down to a referee calling such a great high school football game. If you're a referee you want to stay out of games like this and it's unfortunate for our kids. But we just have to hold ourselves together and get back and get ready for a good Terrebonne football team.”
Defense played a part in both team's first touchdown. East St. John's Jarius Monroe returned an interception over 65 yards inside the Destrehan five yardline setting up a short touchdown run by Calvin Gardner and the Wildcats led 6-0 early in the second quarter.
Destrehan took the lead later in the quarter when Amauchechukwu Nnaji-Collins tore the ball free from an East St. John rusher, never breaking stride and scoring a defensive touchdown as Destrehan took a 7-6.
Still in the second quarter Destrehan extended the lead to 14-6 after Blood connected to Carl Lewis for a touchdown with 1:52 left in the quarter.
That was time enough for East St. John to march down the field, and score when Duke Crosby fired a pass over the middle that Shelvin Keller caught in stride with one hand and raced into the end zone to cut the Destrehan lead to 14-12 at halftime.
Destrehan struck first in the second half when Emery raced down the visiting sidelines for a 46 yard gain, then scored on the next play from two yards out and the Wildcats were on top 21-12.
Following another long Crosby-to-Keller connection, Crosby scored on a keeper then after Gardner rushed in for the 2-point conversion the Destrehan lead was cut to 21-20 with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter.
East St. John would take the lead early in the fourth quarter when Crosby lobbed a pass to Kyle Henderson who made an excellent adjustment coming back for the ball, then racing a defender into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Prentice Cook rushed in the 2-point conversion and now it was East St. John with a 28-21 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Destrehan answered a little more than two minutes later when Emery scored on a 4-yard touchdown run and after Phillip Stratton's extra point kick, the game was tied at 28-28 with 5:30 remaining.
The Wildcats defense held, and after marching to the East St. John 11 yardline, brought out Stratton for a short field goal attempt with 0:09 left in regulation. His kick went wide left setting off a wild celebration on the East St. John sideline and the game went to overtime tied 28-28.
“I'm not usually nervous, but that one I was,” said Stratton. “I knew it was a big field goal but I had a sense of security because I knew that if I didn't make it we'd go into overtime and I'd have another chance so I had to keep my head high.”
“Phillip's a great guy, a great kid, and a great kicker,” said Robicheaux. “We had all the confidence in the world with him. That was his first big time kick he ever did. He's a first year player here and he was put in a pressure situation to try and win it in regulation. Hey that happens he did a tremendous job of coming back and making a big kick to win the game.”
East St. John got the ball first in overtime and scored on a 3rd-and-17 play when Crosby hit Antonio on a post-move across the middle for the go-ahead touchdown. The two point conversion failed setting up both the controversial call and Destrehan's game-winning heroics.
Destrehan moves to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in district play.
“Defense stepped it up this game that was really good. I think this game is going to help us along for the rest of the season a lot,” said Rieder.
East St. John falls to 3-3 overall and also 2-1 in district play.
“We're just glad that we're back to the level of being able to compete where we can compete with the perennial powers like a Destrehan,” said Foster. “We got to bounce back with (Hurricane Nate) and everything, we got to bounce back and get ready for Terrebonne next week.”