: Bulldogs match Tiger Homecoming fireworks show with 36-6 district grid win

Tryve Brackin

East Iberville High celebrated its 2008 Homecoming with one heck of an impressive fireworks show at halftime, but the visiting White Castle High Bulldogs continued the night’s explosiveness by putting up 29 unanswered points in the second half to charge to a 36-6 District 9-A football victory Friday night in St. Gabriel.

The 30-point victory boosted WCHS to 2-3 for the season and evened up the Bulldogs’ early District 9-A mark at 1-1. Meanwhile, the hosting Homecoming Tigers fell to 0-4 and 0-2 in district play.

WCHS Coach Ferrante Dominique vowed at halftime to “walk the sidelines until you score fifty points” to motivate his pancake-flat Bulldog club, but he finally stood still with a couple of minutes left on the scoreboard and his club ahead by the final 30-point margin. Apparently, he was weary from the exercise and was pleased with the winning exertion of his Bulldogs, who became the first parish public high school to win two games before the other three teams have managed a single victory going into this week’s action.

On the other side of the field, Coach Jim Peyton had to be pleased with the first half effort of his Homecoming Tigers, who were very much in the district contest by intermission. Prior to kickoff the EIHS coach was upset that he had only eight players in attendance at pre-game practices during the week.

The Tigers hung in the contest thanks to White Castle’s inability to score more than once in the first half due to mistakes and poor offensive execution. Meanwhile, the Tiger offense moved the ball with some efficiency behind quick charges by quarterback Brandon James and running back Mitch Johnson. Much of the game the Tiger offense managed to go outside against the Bulldog defense until bogging down on WCHS’ side of the field.

After playing sluggish football in the first half, the Castlemen came alive early in the third period and began to click on offense and shut down Tiger attempts to move the ball.

Early in the district/parish football contest, both teams moved the pigskin in good fashion. White Castle opened the game in unusual style by doing an onsides kick. That gave EIHS great field position and an early spark for their offense. Johnson and James carried the ball for a pair of first downs, but the success was too much and they ended up giving up the ball on downs.

The Bulldogs marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead with quarterback Jonathan Roberts hitting on a pair of key passes plays to set up a 20-yard TD scamper by first-year varsity back Tyre Bracken. Roberts hit Bracken with a pass for a first down and then he flipped a screen pass right over the middle to fullback Brian Singleton for a 20-plus-yard gainer.

Following the ensuing kickoff, East could not move the ball. On a fourth down punting situation Cameron Lodge flipped a pass too high for a teammate and the Bulldogs got the pigskin at the EIHS 10-yard line while Tiger coaches screamed, “Who call that play!”

White Castle had a golden opportunity to go up by two touchdowns thanks to the boner play call, but a Bulldog back coughed up the football at the EIHS 5-yard line.

Johnson and James came up with a couple of solid runs, but again the Bulldog defense stopped the advance and yet again the Tigers gave up possession within their own territory. A first-down run by Roberts got the Bulldogs within range for a field goal attempt, but the boot came up short in distance and East avoided another potential give-away score.

James took off on a 20-yard run, but two incomplete passes stopped the potential Tiger drive.

Jyruss Edwards, the Bulldogs standout senior running back who did not play the week before in the Castlemen’s district opening loss at West St. John, finally got an opportunity to touch the football again and he went 12 yards for a first down to open the next WCHS offensive series. The run set up a pass play and Roberts hit Bracken with a throw that ended up scoring an apparent touchdown from 25 yards out. However, a holding penalty put the ball back at the EIHS 16 and the drive stalled.

Again the Tigers moved the ball for a first down, but stalled out. White Castle took over and moved down field on a 20-yard run by Sha’Michael Valentine on a reverse and then a 25-yard burst by Ronald Martin. With only seconds remaining to halftime Roberts hit Valentine with a short pass and the little senior back took off on a 50-yard run before being tackled at the EIHS one-yard line, just shy of a score as the clock ran out.

An impressive fireworks show augmented the presentation of the 2008 EIHS Homecoming court at halftime. Montoya Thomas, a Lady Tiger basketball team player and popular student, was named the 2008 queen.

The fireworks continued into the third quarter football action, but it was Bulldog blasts that rocked the earth in St. Gabriel. Taking in the opening kickoff around midfield the Bulldogs marched straight to pay dirt with Roberts tallying on a short run to give his team a 13-0 lead with 10:37 left in the third period.

East took over possession, but simply moved backward. A fumbled football left James racing backwards to recover and prevent a possible WCHS cakewalk to the end zone. The Tigers punted the ball away and Valentine turned it 20 yards to the EIHS 30. On the next play Edwards took a pitch to the right and he sped around and around the entire Tiger defense for a 30-yard TD sprint. WCHS scored a two-point conversion on a run and moved ahead 21-0 with 7:46 left in the third.

Again the Bulldog defense turned back the Tigers and made them move backwards, forcing a punt and great WCHS field position at the Tiger 48. However, the Bulldogs left the ball on the ground. A fumble recovery by senior Tiger linebacker Cedric Bobo gave EI possession at the WCHS 38, leaving Coach Dominique to pronounce, “We sure don’t look like a playoff football team!”

James put the Tigers closer with a break-free run around end, but on the next play WCHS’ Ronald Martin looked like a playoff-level defender as he leaped to pull in an interception at the Bulldog 5-yard line to keep the hosts from capitalizing. Two plays later, Roberts garnered 90 of his game-high 117 yards rushing on one play. The WCHS QB broke through the Tiger line untouched and was off to the races to tally a 90-yard touchdown. Valentine tallied on an end around play for two points and the Bulldogs were up 29-0 with 2:26 left in the period.

The remainder of the third stanza belonged to the Tiger offense as they showed some spunk and completion a little too late to mean much more than the avoidance of a shutout. The drive belonged to QB James. After Lodge recovered a short kickoff and ran to the WCHS 45, it was all Brandon James Showtime. The Tiger QB broke free on a 30-yard run and then gained back yardage after a Bulldog sack. Then, on the first play of the final period, the Tiger QB fired a perfect 25-yard TD pass into the arms of receiver Jonathan Belvin, who never broke stride to score the only points of the night for East.

White Castle took possession at the Bulldog 40 and fullback Singleton answered the Tiger touchdown with a tally of his own. Breaking through the Tiger defense the senior back rambled 40 stripes to the end zone with 10:38 left to play. A PAT gave the Bulldogs their final 36-6 victory margin.

East Iberville gave the Bulldogs one more gift: Possession at the Tiger 20, but the visitors ran the clock out and went home with their second victory of season.