Beaten to the punch: War Eagles stun White Castle in District 8-1A upset

St. John's Hunter Schnebelen dives into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown across the bodies of Brennan Tyson, Peyton Voison, Nicholas Lefebrve, John Morgan Romig and Nicholas Alexander as White Castle's Brian Jenkins, Daniel Edwards, Byron Pierre, Brandon Foster, Jared Little and Moses Young defend in the second quarter of the Eagles' 17-14 District 8-1A victory on Friday night. Schnebelen rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns on 19 attempts. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

PLAQUEMINE - St. John the Evangelist High School used its run-oriented offense to milk the clock and took advantage of four turnovers in an effort to prevent explosive White Castle from the big play during a shocking 17-14 District 8-1A victory on Friday night at the City of Plaquemine Activity Center.

"We have a lot to play for now," St. John coach Oliver "Cricket" Crockett said. "It just fell our way tonight and we are glad it did. The kids just fought their tails offs. We have been doing it all year and it finally came through for us.

"We thought if our offensive line came to play this week, we could handle them up front but we knew with their speed it was going to be tough to do anything. They are so explosive offensively. White Castle is a really good team and are going to win a lot more games and go deep into the playoffs."

The War Eagles (1-6, 1-1) were outgained in total yardage 237-195 but won the turnover battle 4-1. White Castle (4-3, 1-1) scored on their opening possession of each half but were turned away by a gritty St. John defense for the remainder of the game.

"We have to go back to the drawing board, look at our mistakes and get better," White Castle coach Lamar Thomas said. "We can't rely on the big play and obviously we saw that tonight. St. John came out prepared, played hard and performed about as well as you can expect them to. They executed what their coaches told them to do and had a good game plan. A lot of times, they just beat us to the punch.

"You can't turn the ball over and expect to win. If you don't hold onto the football and keep giving the other team chances, you take away chances from yourself. Not just that, but they happened at the absolute worst times."

War Eagle quarterback Hunter Schnebelen rushed for 61 yards and both St. John touchdowns on 19 carries. He completed just 2-of-6 passes for 21 yards but played the entire length of the game doubling in some form of defensive back/linebacker on defense.

"We had five starters out so Hunter had to play," Crockett said. "He was on everything. He never came off the field and that is not really what you want your quarterback to do but he is a leader, did it and I am proud of him."

Nicholas Alexander added 60 yards on 11 attempts and Gavin Primeaux had 45 yards on 13 carries. Tyler St. Germain connected on two point after touchdown attempts and converted a 44-yard field goal.

Brandon Noel recovered two fumbles and Nicholas Lefebvre one, while Princeton Young had an interception.

Harold Zachary scored both Bulldog touchdowns rushing for 27 yards on seven attempts. Dontrell Taylor finished with 101 yards on 14 carries and Daryl Young rushed for 50 yards on just six attempts.

White Castle quarterback Jacory Jones completed just 2-of-6 passes for 27 yards and was intercepted once. He added 24 yards rushing on nine carries. Robert Franklin only touched the ball once on offense but had four kick returns for 111 yards.

Franklin returned the opening kickoff to the Bulldog 42 and Jones' 13-yard completion to Bryon Pierre pushed the Bulldogs' across midfield. A 14-yard completion to Taylor set up Zachary's 2-yard touchdown run after Taylor broke loose on a 31-yard spin and shake but Schnebelen, Noel, Lefebrve and John Morgan Romig stopped Young short on the conversion to leave the score 6-0 with 8:47 left to play in the first quarter.

St. John drove to the Bulldog 7 on the ensuing possession behind Primeaux's 18-yard run and Schnebelen's 15-yard gain but St. Germain's 22-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

St. Germain floated his second attempt just above the cross bar on the Eagles' next possession after St. John held the Bulldogs on fourth down to cut it to 6-3.

Schnebelen's 3-yard sneak capped the Eagles' next possession after St. John forced a three-and-out. Alexander's 20-yard rumble kickstarted the 8-play, 69-yard drive and Collin Crockett's 18-yard catch and run pushed the ball into Bulldog territory. St. Germain's kick was true putting the War Eagles ahead 10-6 with 2:20 to play in the first half.

White Castle drove inside the red zone on the ensuing possession after Franklin returned the kickoff 45 yards into Eagle territory but he tipped a high pass in the end zone that was snatched up by Young on the final play of the half.

Zachary hit St. Germain on a punt attempt following an errant snap on the opening possession of the second half and recovered it at the St. John 17 after Andre Prevost, Daniel Edwards, Moses Young and Brandon Foster combined for two tackles for loss. Three plays later, Zachary punched it in and Taylor ran in the conversion to put White Castle ahead 14-10 with 8:37 left in the third quarter.

White Castle drove into the red zone on their next possession behind consecutive 13-yard runs by Jones and 15-yard gallops from Young but Lefebvre, Andrew Gulotta and Jace Cedotal combined for a 10-yard sack before Noel ran down Taylor and the War Eagles held on fourth down.

Noel recovered Franklin's muffed fair catch of St. Germain's high booming punt at the Bulldog 41 on the next possession but St. John couldn't capitalize. He recovered a fumble on the ensuing series and the Eagles did.

Schnebelen's 4-yard sneak capped the following 6-play, 49-yard drive after the quarterback rushed for gains of 16 and 10 yards. St. Germain was true again to reflect the final tally with 2:56 remaining.

Lefebrve recovered another fumble two plays later after Franklin returned the kickoff to the White Castle 35. St. John failed to convert a first down and the Bulldogs had one final chance but Jones spiked the ball on fourth down following a recovered fumble.

St. John hosts East Iberville Friday night, while White Castle travels to Ascension Christian.