Saturday, October 01, 2005

ESJ stuns Curtis

East St. John stuns Curtis

By Bill Bumgarner
Staff writer

Friday was the third game for the East St. John Wildcats, and it showed.

The Wildcats (2-1) performed with precision and poise early, building a 10-0 lead in the first quarter against John Curtis. What the offense built, kicker Radi Jabouri sealed with fourth-quarter field goals of 56 and 20 yards, as East St. John prevailed 16-6 at home.

Wildcats' quarterback Johnnie Thiel, a Curtis transfer, hit three of three passes for 53 yards and rushed for 29 yards on the opening drive of 80 yards. Thiel scored from eight yards for a 7-0 lead.

Curtis (0-1) punted following three snaps.

Thiel then hit Louis Lee, who made a diving catch for a 48-yard gain at the Curtis five-yard line. East St. John lost 11 yards on its next three play,s but Jabouri made a 33-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage with 4:12 left in the quarter.

“I thought the first drive set the tone for the game,” East St. John coach Larry Dauterive said.

Curtis bounced back with its lone score on the next possession. On his first carry of the season, Joe McKnight broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage and raced 70 yards for a touchdown with 2:46 left. The extra-point attempt was missed, leaving East St. John ahead 10-6 after one period.

The second quarter featured a flurry of turnovers. Curtis fumbled on its first two possessions, miscues that were sandwiched around an interception by McKnight.

After the second fumble recovery, East St. John had possession at the Curtis 41-yard line. The Wildcats reached the Patriots' 17, but a 34-yard field goal attempt by Jabouri was blocked by John Ruttley.

“We had a lot of opportunies and we made a lot of mistakes,” Dauterive said of the second quarter threats.

There were more miscues early in the fourth period. A Thiel was picked off at the Curtis 11-yard line by Colby Arceneaux. But East St. John's Isiah Francis picked off a Kyle Collura pass four plays later.

East St. John drove from its 24-yard line to the Curtis 39-yard line, where Jabouri made a 56-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead at 4:45.

One play later, East St. John's Kerry Clofer recovered a fumble that led to the clincher by Jabouri from 20 yards with 2:47 to play.

Thiel completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards. By contrast, the Patriots passed for 10 yards but rushed for 232. But that movement was offset by three lost fumbles.

“Obviously you're disappointed when you lose, but considering the circumstances (of Hurricane Katrina), this was a typical first game with all the errors,” said Curtis coach J.T. Curtis. “This was a very high intensity game because we have never played them before in the regular season. It is just going to take time for us to jell. But we will.”

*Colby Arceneaux picked off the pass...Thanks to an email sent in, this has been corrected.