By Tate Roussel
Alumnus and new East St. John head coach Brandon Brown’s debut did not go as hoped as the Plaquemine Green Devils used a dynamic running game to spoil the season opener for the Wildcats 42-20 on Friday night at Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve.
“It was a wonderful feeling to be back home,” said Brown. “But it didn’t go as we had hoped.”
Led by running back Melvin McClay, who ran for over 150 yards, the Green Devils took control of the line all game
“We couldn’t control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball,” Brown said.
The Green Devils (1-0) took charge from the start, putting together a scoring drive of over more than minutes on their first possession of the season. After back-to-back 11-yard gains, first from Earl Young and then by McClay, the Devils found their way onto the Wildcat side of the field.
The drive was capped off when quarterback Herbert Thomas connected with McClay on a pass in the end zone with 4:44 on the clock. That gave the Green Devils a lead that they would continue to build on.
The Wildcats (0-1) caught a first-quarter spark when their defense recovered the first of two fumbles of the night, but a turnover on downs at the Green Devil 33-yard-lin put an end to the opportunity.
The Green Devils scored three times in the second quarter, two coming just a few minutes apart.
The first came when McClay put the Green Devils into Wildcat territory with a 27-yard run. Three plays later he found the end zone with a 28-yard run up the middle of the Wildcat defensive line.
On the following kickoff, the return pinned the Wildcats inside their own 20-yard-line. After a missed snap put ESJ inside its 1-yard line and a punt of 23 yards, the Green Devils took advantage of the field position as McClay found the end zone once again. This time he scampered 21 yards for a touchdown.
The lopsided first half continued as Thomas connected with his receiving corps for a 5-yard score, giving the Green Devils a 28-0 advantage heading into the half.
The second half for the Wildcats provided a much better start than the first. After the defense recovered a fumble at the Green Devil 23-yard line, quarterback Dasmain Crosby completed both of his passes on the drive, the second being a 6-yard strike to put the Wildcats on the board at the 9:13 mark of the third quarter.
It would take just one minute for the Green Devils to respond with a score of their own. A great kickoff return put them into Wildcat territory, then McClay would continue his impressive showing two plays later, going 42 yards to his longest run of the night to find the end zone for his fourth touchdown.
The Green Devils went into the final quarter with a 35-7 lead.
The Wildcats found the end zone at the 3:23 mark, and again as time expired, but the effort proved to be too late in the 42-20 loss.
The Wildcats will look to bounce back next week when they travel to West Jefferson. The Buccaneers lost 45-0 to Hahnville on Friday.