Escarra lifts Gents past Gators

BY CHRIS QUEBEDEAUX

SPORTS EDITOR

CROWLEY – Former Belle Chase wrestler Craig Escarra was more than a little disappointed when he enrolled at Crowley High over the summer and discovered the Gents had no wrestling program.

Wanting to participate in some type of athletics, he decided to tryout for the football team.

Wednesday night, Crowley High coach Tommy Tate was glad he did.

The junior place kicker, kicking in his first varsity football game, booted a 25-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining in the game to lift the Gents to a pulsating 22-19 come-from-behind victory over the visiting LaGrange Gators in what was the 2008 opener for both teams.

Both the Gents and Gators had their regular-season openers canceled last week because of the effects of Hurricane Gustav.

“Our guys played real hard, they practiced real hard and I didn’t want to let them down,” said Escarra of his game-winning field goal that came after two missed PATs early in the contest. “I missed my first two kicks. At halftime, I sat back, calmed down and I knew I could make the rest of them.”

Despite never kicking in a game since PeeWee league, there was no hesitation on Tate’s part to send Escarra in with the game on the line.

“We were going for the field goal,” said Tate. “Honestly, on his first two kicks, we had bad snaps. We never got the placement down and that was the problem. Once we got that taken care of, he felt pretty confident that he could knock it through there.”

Escarra’s field goal was set up by a 48-yard pass play from quarterback Dexter Scott to fullback Josh Thomas to the LaGrange 11 yard line. Three straight running plays got the ball down to the LaGrange 8 yard line.

“Our offense did a good job of responding when we needed to and that’s the mark of a good football team,” said Tate. “We ran the bootleg and made the big throw to the fullback to get us down in scoring territory to take the lead.”

LaGrange had one final opportunity to spoil Escarra’s heroics with under a minute to go when Derek Bellard connected with Darius Edwards on a 20-yard pass. That, coupled with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Gators the ball at the CHS 32.

Bellard was not as lucky on the following play. He was intercepted by Crowley’s Troy Wilridge at the Gents 8 yard line, from where the Gents then ran out the clock.

Crowley running back Steven Boulet also left his mark on the LaGrange defense, rushing 32 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

With Crowley trailing 19-12, Boulet took over. He rushed 11 times for 55 yards during a 12-play drive and scored on a 9-yard run. Escarra’s PAT tied the game, setting up the game-winning field goal minutes later.

Boulet also set up and scored the first touchdown of the game, breaking loose for a 40-yard run on the first play of the game and later capping the five-play drive with a 3-yard run.

“He (Boulet) is a tough kid and he wants the ball,” said Tate. “His offensive line has a lot of confidence in him, his teammates have a lot of confidence in him and he’s getting better. He’s developing into a really solid, tough running back.”

Scott, meanwhile, finished the game completing seven passes for 109 yards, including a 25-yard fade route to Donovan Morris for a touchdown.

Crowley’s defense was also spectacular, holding the Gators’ potent passing attack to just 69 yards and their run game to just 90 yards.

“Their (LaGrange) quarterback can throw the ball,” said Tate. “We had to put pressure on him, we had to mix up cover schemes with zone and man and we did a good job of that. And we got a couple of sacks so that was big.”

Despite a few miscues on special teams, Tate was pleased overall with his team’s performance.

“Heck, we’re 1-0 and we’re looking forward to Week 2,” said Tate. “It’s nothing like Wednesday night football.”

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