Hahnville stays in command of district race with 27-0 win at East St. John

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Friday night’s game was the 40th meeting between Hahnville and East St. John, but there was more at stake than River Parishes bragging rights.

Hahnville took control of its own destiny in the District 7-5A race and put itself firmly in the district driver’s seat with a 27-0 victory at Joe Keller Stadium in LaPlace.

The Tigers (6-2, 4-0) close the regular season against Central Lourche and H.L. Bourgeois. Victories would secure their first district title under coach Nick Saltaformaggio.

“We can’t let our foot off the gas,” said Saltaformaggio. “I grew up around the Fairgrounds and I remember people telling me all the time, the jockey whips the horse that’s out in front. He doesn’t whip the horse when he’s 20 lengths behind. Our horse is out front, but we gotta keep him there.”

The Tigers also evened the series with East St. John at 20-20 and notched their fourth consecutive win over the Wildcats. East St. John, which was looking to snag a share of the top spot, fell to 5-4, 3-2.

“We just didn’t execute,” Foster said. “We missed on a lot of opportunities. You can do that against this type of team.”

As it has been all season when the Tigers took the field, Friday night’s game was the Anthony “Pooka” Williams show. The metro area’s leading rusher added to his highlight reel, rushing for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He also hauled in a one-handed, 50-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jha’quan Jackson — his only completion of the night.

Thomas Rasco added a pair of field goals and was 3-for-3 on extra points to account for the rest of Hahnville’s points.

The Tigers defense did the rest, holding the Wildcats to 199 yards of offense.

Quarterback Dasmain “Duke Crosby was 12 of 35 for 122 yards with three interceptions. Hahnville’s Khalil Mason came up with two of those. Hunter LeBlanc nabbed the third. Crosby also rushed for 68 of the Wildcats’ 77 yards on the ground.

The Tigers, meanwhile, amassed 466 rushing yards – most of it from Williams. Only three other players touched the ball, not counting Jackson. Some of his most impressive runs came on non-scoring plays, including a 72-yard zigging, zagging run from the Hahnville 5 to the Wildcats 13. He ran another from the Tigers’ 38 to the Wildcats 10.

“He’s Pooka,” East St. John coach Aldon Foster said with a shrug. “He is as advertised.”

East St. John, meanwhile, failed to capitalize on the few opportunities it had and moved the ball well at times.

The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and drove 79 yards on 14 plays. But on fourth-and-goal at the 1, quarterback Crosby was stopped and the Cats had to turn the ball over on downs with 6:43 remaining in the quarter.

It didn’t take Hahnville long to move up the field, thanks to Williams’ 72-yard run on second down. But the Tigers stalled at the Wildcats 10 and had to settle for a 28-yard Rasco field goal.

The Tigers made it 10-0 early in the second quarter after Williams ran from the 38 to the East St. John 10. On second down, he walked into the end zone from the 4.

Hahnville increased the lead to 17-0 with 30 seconds remaining in the half when Williams outjumped a pair of Wildcats defenders (one of whom was called for pass interference) to nab a 50-yard touchdown pass — one-handed.

The Tigers’ next score was set up by the first of Mason’s two interceptions. After a penalty gave Hahnville the ball at the 3, Williams scored easily with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Rasco added a 30-yard field goal with 10:13 remaining in the game.

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