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Hutton: EC, West Side both win big in epic game

East Chicago Central's #2 Carter Martyveus gives Gary West Side's #30 Jaquan Ross straight arm as he breaks away long

East Chicago Central's #2 Carter Martyveus gives Gary West Side's #30 Jaquan Ross a straight arm as he breaks away on a long run, on 11/8/13 during the sectional final game. | John Booz/for the Sun Times Media

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Updated: December 10, 2013 6:13AM



HAMMOND — Even Jon Vea’ Johnson was smiling. He was savoring the moment, sitting up against the iron fence, his work done for the evening.

West Side lost to East Chicago but they won. Both teams won.

They played their hearts out, left the fans gasping for air and satisfied. Very satisfied. Football between these two schools hasn’t ever been this good, this special, simultaneously.

It was big play city for big players. They didn’t disappoint. That’s why Johnson, who has a quiet disposition, was soaking it up, his helmet off, with Martayveus Carter walking off in the back of the field.

Those two players combined for nearly 600 yards of offense and eight touchdowns.

EC won 46-44, but not before West Side spent every last drop of energy it had, trying desperately to get into the end zone from the midfield after EC carelessly failed to run the clock out and left 13 seconds.

There was no way Johnson was going to be sad about this one.

“I can’t even cry right now,” he said. “I don’t know why I’m not crying. We live for these moments, you know?”

And then he walked away with a smile on his face. Johnson couldn’t cry because he caught 16 passes for 316 yards.

It was almost enough to give them their first sectional ever. Carter did just enough to give the Cardinals their first sectional.

He rushed for 280 yards. He guarded Johnson. OK, he tried. He played killer defense. He made sacks. He intercepted a pass. He rank back punts and kickoffs.

He was basically Red Grange for the evening.

He was happy, too.

“This was an amazing feeling,” he said.

Don’t you wish that both teams could always be happy after a tough game? Doesn’t usually happen that way.

But both teams had a lot to be proud of. West Side was never supposed to beat Lowell, they weren’t supposed to basically play three road games and they really shouldn’t have been this close in this game.

They were trailing by 18 points in the second half before a near miracle comeback — one that saw them score a touchdown in 20 seconds on two plays from 77 yards. That cut the lead to 46-44.

EC wasn’t really supposed to beat West Side. At least that is what the experts believed.

We know now for probably, for sure.

East Chicago’s athletes are slightly better than West Side’s. This had the feel of a backyard, neighborhood scrum, with home made plays, plenty of trash talking and big play, after big play.

Except their was a sliver of difference between the teams. EC could run the ball effectively and they could dial it up on defense.

The let-the-players-make-plays-over-and-over-and-over-again mantra was strictly one dimensional. The Cougars were a red, hot flash on offense for a quarter, but then reality set in.

His name was Martayveus Carter. He was unstoppable Martayveus Carter for nearly four quarters.

Carter had 178 yards rushing — in the FIRST HALF.

That included consecutive touchdown runs of 70 and 56 yards. He set up another TD with an interception. He sacked Atkins once. He returned punts and he even ran a fake punt 10-yards for a first down. He returned kick-offs, too. He didn’t serve popcorn, though, that was about all he didn’t do.

This unfathomable first half, by any reasonable standard, will be one that neither West Side, nor Johnson nor Carter will ever forget.

“Whew, I’ve never seen him play like that,” Johnson said.

A lot of people on both sides of the stands had never seen a GAME like that. It’s one they won’t soon forget.



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