REPLAY: Brother Martin tops John Curtis to win Catholic League title
HAMMOND – For the first time in a dozen years, the Catholic League football title is headed to Elysian Fields Avenue.
Brother Martin’s Leyton Liuzza kicked a go-ahead 31-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining, and the Crusader defense came up with a fourth-down stop to preserve a 38-35 victory over John Curtis Christian Friday night at Strawberry Stadium.
The game was broadcast live on Cox Sports Television and Crescent City Sports.
It is the first undefeated season and district title since 2008 for Brother Martin (7-0, 4-0).
“I’m so excited and so proud of our guys,” said Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis. “They’ve worked so hard with a lot of unknowns. They came to practice every day and truly worked. They’re a resilient bunch of guys.”
The Crusaders trailed 35-28 entering the fourth quarter, but they rode the legs of running back Jaylon Spears – who had 191 yards rushing – in coming back.
“It all starts with those ‘hogs’ up front, those five linemen and two tight ends,” Bonis said. “(Spears) is a big part of it, but he doesn’t have any (college) offers. When it comes to running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield, he’s a true threat.
“Everybody in the stands knew he was touching the ball. That’s the sign of a good back and a veteran offensive line, that he was still able to have success.”
Spears’ third touchdown run of the night, from two yards out, tied the game with 7:16 left. The Brother Martin defense forced a three-and-out, and Jahron Manning’s punt return put the Crusaders in business at the Curtis 20.
The Patriot defense held, but Liuzza connected on the game-winner.
Brother Martin stuffed John Curtis quarterback Buddy Taylor on a fourth-and-2 play, and Spears carried for two first downs, including an 8-yard run on third-and-3, to put it away.
The Crusaders relied primarily on their ground game, rushing for 258 yards. Curtis had 321 yards on the ground, including 116 by Taylor, and had a 451-305 edge in total yards.
Brother Martin gained significant hidden yardage in the kicking game – a successful on-side kick, a 66-yard return for a touchdown by Torey Lambert on the second-half kickoff and Manning’s late punt return – and claimed the game’s only takeaway.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…