There was a somber mood at Tiger Stadium Friday night as Hahnville fell 21-7 to East St. John in a key District 7-5A matchup for both teams, and it had more to do than just the loss for the Tigers.
Running back Brandon Comardelle suffered a hip injury midway through the second quarter Friday night and is expected to miss action going forward, the latest blow in what’s been a season of them for Hahnville. Comardelle was coming off of consecutive 200 yard rushing performances.
“He’s probably gonna miss a couple weeks,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said, stopping short of noting what that statement also conveyed — that two weeks would represent the rest of the season. “Once he went out … it just is what it is. He’s that one guy we have that’s explosive and can score.”
Hahnville (3-5, 1-3) attempted to rally back from a 14-0 deficit in the fourth quarter when it cashed in on a turnover via Jha’Quan Jackson’s 17-yard run on a quarterback keeper that made it 14-7 with 9:59 left to play in the game.
But that momentum was fleeting. East St. John answered right back when quarterback Sean Shelby dialed up tight end Hoxie Brown for a 27-yard touchdown reception to push ESJ (3-5, 2-3) ahead by two scores, 21-7, with 5:37 left to play.
East St. John sealed the win when Jarius Monroe intercepted a Jackson pass to short circuit Hahnville’s next drive. The Tigers stopped ESJ from scoring once the Wildcats drove inside the Hahnville 5, but there wasn’t enough time left to mount a comeback.
“This is a program changer, to come into a place like Hahnville and come out with the win,” said East St. John coach Brandon Brown, in his first year as the Wildcats’ head coach. “A question we’ve been asked all year, what are we gonna do to beat a team like Hahnville, a team like Destrehan, a team like Thibodaux, teams we haven’t beat in the last three years. This is a big win for our program.”
Saltaformaggio credited East St. John for playing well, and Brown for improving the program to the lengths he has in his first year as coach.
“They don’t look anything like they have in the past,” said Saltaformaggio, before offering a sobering, “but unfortunately neither do we.”
The first half was a defensive slugfest that saw the first points come with less than two minutes left in the second quarter. Shelby connected with Dontae Fleming for a 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 6-0.
That lead became more problematic for Hahnville on the Tigers’ next possession when Kendrell Holmes intercepted Andrew Naquin and returned it for a touchdown to push ESJ up 14-0, after a two-point conversion was successful.
“Once (ESJ jumped ahead) … it was done,” Saltaformaggio said. “We haven’t been able to score. Once 5 (Comardelle) went out, there went our biggest threat.”
The Tigers moved Jackson from receiver to quarterback in the second half, something Saltaformaggio said would likely stay the case for the foreseeable future.
Comardelle’s loss is the latest dose of adversity for Hahnville, which has now lost it’s top two tailbacks in he and Darryle Evans (injury), and starting quarterback, Andrew Robison (eligibility).