John Curtis’ Catholic League debut against Brother Martin was one of the most anticipated games of the season — and it lived up to the billing.
The second- and third-ranked teams in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large Schools Super 10 finally squared off Saturday, and Brother Martin’s big-play combo of quarterback Jake Broggi and running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling was too much for the Patriots to handle.
The duo combined for 539 total yards to help the Crusaders come away with a thrilling 40-37 overtime win in each team’s District 9-5A opener at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent, and we just came into (the game) with it on our mind,” said Jordan-Swilling, who finished with 37 carries for 178 yards and three touchdowns. “I’m just proud of my teammates and the way we fought for this game all the way to the end.”
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, instead of going with the big plays that carried them all game, the Crusaders went on a methodical 18-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Jordan-Swilling diving into the end zone from a yard out for his third score of the day, giving the Crusaders a 34-20 lead with 5:55 left.
But Curtis refused to give up, getting touchdown runs of 42 yards by Marqueese Albert and 5 by Devon Benn to tie the score at 34 with 2:27 left.
The Crusaders failed to complete a game-winning drive at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.
“That was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “We tried to get them ready for a 48-minute battle. … We finished and found a way to win. I’m so proud of our guys.”
Curtis received the ball first in overtime, and LHSAA rules state that each team gets the ball 10 yards away from the end zone with an opportunity to score. The Patriots ran the ball into the line three times before stalling. Kody Schexnayder then kicked 22-yard field goal to give Curtis a 37-34 lead.
Then it was Brother Martin’s turn. Knowing the Patriots would key on Jordan-Swilling, the Crusaders ran a read-option play, allowing Broggi to keep the ball and run for 10 yards before diving into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
Broggi completed 12 of 22 passes for 351 yards and had three total touchdowns.
“It’s great because we lost to them in the (Division I playoff) semifinals last year,” Broggi said. “We wanted this game the whole week … and the hard work all week helped us get the win.”
The Crusaders used their big-play passing game when wide receiver Jeremy Singleton took a screen pass 80 yards on the first play of the second half to up the Crusaders’ lead to 27-7.
But Curtis refused to give up, utilizing a 44-yard punt return by Taj Bickham to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Benn. The Patriots took their next possession 60 yards in six plays before a Brock Hebert 24-yard touchdown run cut the Brother Martin lead to 27-20 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Benn finished with 18 touches for 105 yards and three total touchdowns.
“The bottom line is they’ve got a good football team and we turned it over way too much in the first quarter,” Patriots coach J.T. Curtis said. “The special teams was tremendous for us and gave us a chance to win the game, but Broggi made a great play at the end to win it.”