On an afternoon when two Catholic League football teams navigated through a humid and sometimes rainy afternoon that produced 70 points and almost 800 yards, Brother Martin coach Marc Bonis agreed two defensive plays may have been the difference-makers.
Bonis’ Crusaders survived with a 41-29 victory against District 9-5A rival St. Augustine by using a 55-yard interception return that resulted in one second-half touchdown and a fumble recovery at the Crusaders’ 5-yard line that snuffed a Purple Knights threat.
“No question, those were big plays,” Bonis said after his team moved its record to 6-0, 1-0 in district. The Crusaders are ranked No. 8 in the LSWA statewide 5A poll and No. 6 in the New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10.
The two plays happened within five minutes of each other in the fourth quarter when the Crusaders were protecting a two-touchdown lead against the explosive Purple Knights (3-2, 0-1 and No. 10 in both rankings).
Following a three-and-out and holding a 34-21 lead with more than 11 minutes remaining, Brother Martin’s Bruce Jordan-Swilling returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown and a 41-21 lead.
Then the Knights drove 73 yards in 14 plays only to have the Crusaders’ Adam Henderson pounce on Justice McCoy’s fumble at the Brother Martin 5.
St. Aug gained 433 total yards and eventually scored again with 90 seconds remaining.
“Just another Catholic League football battle,” Bonis said, finally smiling minutes into his postgame comments.
It marked the first time the Crusaders have scored 40 points in a district game since 2007.
“St. Aug is such a great passing team,” Bonis said. “We worked on our (defense) getting deep drops. Bruce did a great job, made a play.”
Jordan-Swilling lined up as the middle linebacker when the play began at the Knights’ 28. He dropped back to the Crusaders’ 45 where he caught the high, deep pass.
“He hung it a bit,” Jordan-Swilling said. “When I got it, all I saw in front of me was green. I took off.”
Henderson saw McCoy’s fumble “after it was on the ground. I was jacked,” he said. “I knew I had to get it.”
McCoy, who passed for 345 yards with 23 completions in 42 attempts, drove the Knights 66 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead near the end of the first quarter. McCoy covered 57 of the yards with four pass completions, before Lanard Fournette’s scored on a 4-yard run.
Brother Martin answered with three straight scores, taking a 20-7 lead before the Knights cut it to 20-13 just before halftime.
Jared West, who gained 137 yards on 20 carries, gave Martin the lead for good with a 22-yard burst up the middle. West later scored on a 56-yard run and Jodan-Swilling added a 47-yarder and then a 2-yard plunge.
“Credit the offensive line with those long gains,” West said. “We were able to get in and out of the creases (in the defense) untouched on those.”
“We were well-prepared on both offense and defense,” said Jordan-Swilling, who plays both ways. “Credit goes to everybody.”