A 16-point first-half deficit was a bit too much for East St. John to overcome in the Wildcats’ 16-14 loss to McDonogh 35 on Friday.
“We started off flat, for whatever reason,” East St. John coach Brandon Brown said.
The Wildcats coach said he challenged his team at halftime.
“I said in order for us to win this game, we can’t allow them to score again. The defense went out and did that. We got the ball moving and had our chances,” said Brown.
Trailing 16-0 in the third quarter, the Wildcats (1-2) cut the margin in half on a 3-yard touchdown run by Damain “Duke” Crosby. Crosby, who had been moved to receiver a week ago to take advantage of his ability in open space, shared time at quarterback with Sean Shelby.
A successful two-point conversion attempt make it 16-8.
C.J Gardner added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter but a failed two-point conversion saw the Wildcats fall to 1-2 on the season. East St. John appeared to have converted on the two-point conversion but there was an inadvertent whistle by the referees on the play. The Wildcats then failed on a second attempt that would have tied the game.
Conditioning led to an improved effort by the Wildcats in the second half, according to Brown.
“The second half, we got a rhythm. We started moving the ball offensively. We ran the ball pretty good and we just kind of wore them down. I credit that to our strength and conditioning we put in all summer. In the second half, I think McDonogh 35 was a little bit tired and we were a little fresh,” Brown said.
McDonogh 35 (2-1) built at 14-0 first-half lead a punt return for a touchdown and an offensive score. A snap over the head of the East St. John punter that sailed into the end zone led to a safety that proved to be the winning margin in the contest.
East St. John passed for 129 yards passing and 70 rushing.
The Roneagles’ production was equally split with 95 yards rushing and 95 passing.
“Defensively, we played well. I think anytime you allow a team to have less than 150-200 yards, I think you should win,” Brown said.