Playing a home semifinal game against third-seeded Vermilion Catholic, the Bulldogs fought through a torrential downpour and a couple of long pass plays in the first half to punch their ticket to the state championship game for the second straight season with a 37-13 victory.

Ever since Ascension Catholic fell to Lafayette Christian in last year’s Division-IV title game, they’ve been hell-bent on getting another crack at them.

After Friday night, they now get their round two.

Playing a home semifinal game against third-seeded Vermilion Catholic, the Bulldogs fought through a torrential downpour and a couple of long pass plays in the first half to punch their ticket to the state championship game for the second straight season with a 37-13 victory.

“This is a very special moment for our football program and school,” Ascension Catholic head coach Drey Trosclair said. “We went last year and fell a little short. Our goal from the beginning of the year was to put ourselves in the position to make it back to the state championship game, and here we are.

“We won a big semifinal game tonight against a really good Vermilion Catholic team, and we’re playing Lafayette Christian. It’s gonna be the rematch.”

The Bulldogs took the opening lead against the Eagles when they put together a six-play, 82-yard drive.

Jamar Barber got things going with a 40-yard run. Jai Williams then finished with a 19-yard scamper to put them ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.

Vermilion Catholic got the ball back and on their second play, quarterback Drew Lege hit Ethan Lege for a 74-yard touchdown to tie the game.

That’s when the heavy rain began pounding Floyd Boutte Stadium. The conditions played a huge part in Ascension Catholic’s next points.

Taking a shotgun snap out of his own end zone, the ball slipped out of Drew Lege’s hands. By the time he gathered it in, he was swarmed for a safety.

The Bulldogs eventually scored on a six-yard touchdown run by quarterback John Mire. However, the snap on the extra point could not be handled, so the lead was 15-7.

On Vermilion Catholic’s first play of their ensuing drive, Drew Lege connected with Ethan Lege for a 72-yard score. The two-point try failed, so they trailed 15-13 at the half.

Because of the monsoon-like storm, Ascension Catholic had to change their offense from a shotgun-spread attack to an under-center I-formation approach in the second half. It worked well on their opening drive of the third quarter.

They gave it to Williams six straight times, and he chewed up 75 yards. The last carry went for a nine-yard score.

The Bulldogs then converted the two-point try to go up 23-13.

“That was huge,” Trosclair said. “We made the adjustment to go under center and run the I-formation at halftime because of the field conditions. We knew we had to go ground-and-pound. We knew we weren’t gonna be able to go outside much, and it worked out for us. We did just enough.”

Vermilion Catholic had two chances to score in the third quarter after recovering a blocked punt at the Bulldog 18, and then recovering a fumble at the Ascension Catholic 31.

Both times, Ascension Catholic’s defense held them to no points.

To begin the fourth, the Bulldogs turned the Eagles over on downs at the Bulldog 11-yard line.

They then went on a 10-play, 89-yard drive that ate up nearly six minutes. With a one-yard touchdown run by Mire, they went up 30-13.

Later, they put the game away with a six-yard touchdown run by Williams.

Again, Williams was spectacular. He was a workhorse, toting the ball 39 times for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

Barber added 75 yards on nine carries.

After giving up 151 yards in the first half, the Ascension Catholic defense held the Eagles to just 36 in the final 30 minutes.

“We played really well on defense in the second half. We held them to no points,” Trosclair said. “The offensive effort was outstanding. The guys up front dug in, and Jai Williams put the team on his back like he’s been doing all year, and here we are going back to the Dome with a chance to win a state championship.”

With the victory, the Bulldogs are playing in back-to-back title games for the first time since 1991 and 1992.

They’ll face a Lafayette Christian squad that is undefeated and fresh off of a 38-20 victory over top-seeded Southern Lab.