For the second straight week, Jesuit got a stellar effort from its defense.
This time, it wasn’t in vain.
Jesuit’s defense helped fight off a feisty Brother Martin team for a hard-fought 17-14 victory Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The Blue Jays (7-2, 3-1 in District 9-5A) bounced back after losing a 10-7 slugfest to Rummel last week.
“That’s the Catholic League,” Jesuit coach Mark Songy said. “People take defense very seriously, as we have seen the last two weeks. I hope that people have seen from us that we are pretty salty on defense.”
With the victory, Jesuit, ranked No. 5 in both The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10 and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll, still has a shot at a share of the Catholic League title.
The Blue Jays will have to beat St. Augustine in the regular-season finale Friday and then hope Brother Martin beats top-ranked Rummel.
“We came out like we planned to, fast and physical,” said linebacker Robert Lobrano, the Blue Jays’ leading tackler. “We were hungry and we came out there full force flying to the ball.”
It was the seventh consecutive game the Blue Jays have allowed two touchdowns or less.
But the past two games, the high-powered offense that averaged 42.7 points the first seven weeks of the season has been stagnant.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Songy said. “The offense needs to help us out a little bit. We were doing that earlier in the year. The last two weeks we haven’t taken care of the football like we should and made plays on offense like we should. That’s disappointing.”
Chris Mills and Charles Jackson finished with 89 yards rushing apiece for the Blue Jays. Trey Laforge completed 14 of 27 passes for 127 yards.
Jesuit looked to be in control of this one late, leading 17-14 and milking the clock with a drive that went deep into Brother Martin territory.
But a fumble gave the Crusaders one last chance.
“Most people would’ve quit, but our kids never quit,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “Rod Teamer, one of the guys who is the heart and soul of this team, showed his will of not being denied and stripped the football. I think that speaks for itself about this time.”
The Crusaders took over at their own 11 with 1:31 left and got to the 49-yard line before Jake Broggi’s desperation pass as time expired gave them their first loss of the season.
Brother Martin (8-1, 3-1), ranked No. 6 in the Super 10 and No. 7 in 5A, was seeking its first 9-0 start since 2008. That year they went 8-0 in the regular season and won their first playoff game under then-coach Jay Pittman. The school’s only other 9-0 starts were in 1972 and 1983.
Instead, they lost to the Blue Jays for the fifth straight time, including a pair of losses last season.
Jesuit got going first.
Chris Mills ran through a gaping hole and raced 48 yards for a touchdown with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.
The Blue Jays added to the lead in the second quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Laforge to Alex Rabalais. It capped a 10-play, 57-yard drive highlighted by Charles Jackson’s 18-yard run. Jackson almost scored on the play, but stepped out on the 6-yard line. Laforge’s touchdown pass came on the next play.
Brother Martin caught a break to set up what looked like a golden opportunity.
Broggi completed a 19-yard pass to Bruce Jordan-Swilling, who then fumbled. Teammate Jeremy Singleton scooped up the fumble and sprinted down the sideline before being chased down at the 2.
But the Crusaders came away empty, missing a 22-yard field goal.
“You have to be able to convert there and we didn’t,” Bonis said. “But they are a great defense. They held Rummel to 10 points last week.”
Brother Martin scored late in the third. Broggi tried a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line, but fumbled and running back Jared West recovered for the touchdown.
Jesuit answered when Crew Jacobs kicked a 33-yard field go in the fourth to go up 17-7.
“Our kicker came through,” Songy said. “I have been waiting on something good to happen to Crew and it happened today.”
Brother Martin didn’t go away though.
West scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a 6-yard run with 2:53 left. West, who entered the game with 1,132 yards and 15 touchdowns, finished with 66 yards on 18 carries. His second touchdown came just four plays after a 52-yard pass play from Broggi to Irv Smith.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jesuit fumbled but recovered and began to drive before the fumble that gave Brother Martin one last chance.
“I guess everybody got their money’s worth with the ticket because it went down to the wire,” Songy said.