Bulldogs upset fifth-ranked Eagles
Heading into their Thursday night matchup at home against fifth-ranked Central Catholic, Ascension Catholic head coach Drey Trosclair knew that there was only one way to keep the Eagles’ high-powered offense off of the field: run, run and then run some more.
The formula worked. Fueled by tailbacks Jai Williams and Jamar Barber, the Bulldogs churned out 212 yards on the ground en route to upsetting Central Catholic, 28-21.
“This is big for our guys,” Trosclair said. “Last year, we lost to these guys at their place, 70-46. They put up a lot of points on us, so we made it a point defensively to keep our offense in the game. We knew we would have to score some points to beat these guys. It's a huge victory. It's a huge momentum builder. When you beat the No. 5 team in 1A, it says a lot about your ball club. I think we have a great group of guys, if we stick together.”
As sweet as the end result tasted for the Bulldogs, the start of the game was quite bitter.
Coming off of a crushing 41-14 loss to Dunham, misfortune followed Ascension Catholic on the first two drives of the game.
They took their opening possession at the Central Catholic 40 after a short kick and a facemask penalty.
They drove into the red zone, but the drive ended when they fumbled the ball away to the Eagles.
Central Catholic took advantage. They drove 88 yards on 14 plays and went up 7-0 after a four-yard touchdown run by Chris Singleton.
Though, Ascension Catholic answered right back.
They put together a 13-play, 51-yard drive that ended with quarterback Javon Yarbrough stretching his way into the end zone for a one-yard score on fourth-and-goal. The Bulldogs failed to convert the 2-point try.
Trailing 7-6, the Bulldogs forced a three-and-out and went back on the move offensively.
This time, they marched 63 yards in seven plays and took their first lead with a 28-yard touchdown run by Jai Williams, the son of all-time great Bulldog running back Germaine Williams.
Clinging to the 12-7 advantage, Central Catholic put together a drive right before the half that got them all the way down to the Bulldog 2-yard line with 10 seconds remaining.
The Eagles decided to take a gamble and run the ball, despite not having any timeouts left. The Bulldogs stuffed them for no gain—ending the scoring threat and giving them a huge boost heading into halftime.
"That was one of the turning points of the game,” Trosclair said. “For us to do that going into the locker room, knowing that they're going to get the ball to start the second half, being up 12-7, that could have been demoralizing. It's not going to take you out of the game, but it's high-school kids. It gave them confidence going into the second half. Hey, we just played 24 minutes, and we only gave up 7 points."
Late in the third quarter, Ascension Catholic kept the momentum flowing as they broke out some trickery.
The Bulldogs ran a double-reverse flea-flicker that resulted in a 46-yard connection between Yarbrough and Williams.
A few plays later, Yarbrough hit Kebori Hunter for a 15-yard score to extend the Bulldog lead to 20-7.
After Central Catholic got within 20-14, the Bulldog offense went back to work.
The put together an 11-play drive that was highlighted by a tough 16-yard run by Barbar to the 1-yard line.
Williams then stretched the lead to 28-14 with a three-yard touchdown run off of an option pitch.
The Eagles scored late to cut it to 28-21, but after Hunter recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, Ascension Catholic was able to ice away the huge upset victory.
The Bulldogs did almost all of their damage on the ground. Yarbrough only had to throw the ball twice all game. He completed both passes for 61 yards and a score.
Williams led the way with a game-high 114 yards rushing with a touchdown. Barber piled up 83 hard-earned yards.
"We have two really good backs in Jamar Barber and Jai Williams, and our game plan was to pound the rock. We wanted to keep them off of the field because they're a very talented football team,” Trosclair said. “That's a very good team we beat tonight. We saw some things that we liked. We thought that we'd be able to rush the ball efficiently.”
The gauntlet continues for Ascension Catholic this week. They open up district play with a road game against second-ranked Southern Lab—the defending Division IV champions.