Bulldogs drop season finale to 3A Kaplan

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Ascension Catholic finished their first season 3-7 under head coach Drey Trosclair. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Despite being out-manned against a 6-3 team from Class 3A, Ascension Catholic fought furiously throughout their season finale. But with their offense being stuck on the sideline for much of the game and with Kaplan's rushing attack chewing up 412 yards, the Bulldogs fell short, 22-6.

"Our defense, you have to give them credit; they played so well. They played hard against a really good team," Ascension Catholic head coach Drey Trosclair said. "We're upset. This is one that we didn't want to lose, but I'm proud of the way our guys fought."

Kaplan came into the contest winners of four straight games and averaging 36 points per contest with workhorse Julius Johnson and their powerful triple-option attack.

The Bulldogs were down on their luck as they entered the game with back-to-back losses and with starting quarterback Javon Yarbrough sidelined.

The Pirates' dominating ground game quickly marched downfield on their opening drive--reaching the Ascension Catholic 5-yard line.

However, on fourth-and-one, Johnson was stuffed by the Bulldog defense, forcing Kaplan to turn the ball over on downs.

The Bulldog offense fed off of the momentum and drove 68 yards until they reached the Pirate 28.

Points looked imminent, but the usually-reliable Kaleb Winchester put the ball on the ground, and Kaplan recovered--putting an end to Ascension Catholic's most promising drive of the first half.

The Bulldog offense would only see one more play for the rest of the quarter.

Fueled by the turnover, the Pirates drove 70 yards in 11 plays. Johnson came through with the game's first score as he exploded up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run.

A successful two-point try gave Kaplan an 8-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Ascension Catholic quarterback DC Mattingly was picked off on the Bulldogs' next possession--giving Kaplan the ball at their 35-yard line.

The Ascension Catholic defense made a huge stand. They once again came through with a stop on fourth down to end the half with an eight-point deficit.

The Bulldog offense only ran five plays in the entire second quarter.

Ascension Catholic's defense pitched a shutout in the third to keep them within one score, but Kaplan finally found some breathing room in the fourth.

They drove 60 yard in seven plays and got back into the end zone with a 39-yard touchdown run by BJ Broussard. Kaplan once again converted the two-point try to go up 16-0.

The Pirates then recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and quickly marched 41 yards in eight plays for a two-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it 22-0.

The Bulldogs never quit.

They went downfield in just five plays and scored when Jacoby Stewart made a superb leaping grab in traffic that he took in for a 27-yard score to cut the deficit to 22-6.

After a perfect onside kick by Bubba Gautreau was recovered by Cole Amedee, the Bulldogs had the ball at the Kaplan 48 with just under three minutes remaining.

Although, they couldn't take advantage. The Pirates held Mattingly to four straight incompletions to turn Ascension Catholic over on downs and ice away the victory.

In the win, Johnson was amazing. He carried the ball 39 times for an astounding 293 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bulldog offense didn't see much of the field. They were held to just 150 total yards.

Mattingly went 7-17 for 96 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He added 17 yards on the ground.

Winchester was held to just 11 yards rushing on five carries. He also had four catches for 37 yards.

"We held them to 8 points in the fourth quarter. There were just a few things that happened throughout the course of the football game," Trosclair said. "I'm just upset for these seniors. It's such a tough way to go out. They played so hard the whole season. I'm so proud of them."

With the loss, the Bulldogs finished the first season under Trosclair at 3-7, but he said that he's optimistic about the program's future.

"We'd like to progress as an offense and not turn the ball over like we have this season. That has really been our Achilles heel, and our special teams are going to have to be better," Trosclair said. "In all three phases, we're just going to try to build on what we did. We'll be a little older. We had a real young bunch this year, so I'm really excited about it."