Stout defense, quick-strike offense powers Bulldogs to win

Michael Tortorich
Ascension Catholic's Joel Landry wraps up a tackle of Philip Guarisco. Photo by Michael Tortorich.

Jai Williams ran for three touchdowns and Bryce Leonard threw a pair of scoring passes to pace Ascension Catholic in Thursday night's 33-14 win over visiting Central Catholic.

Following a week off, Ascension Catholic improved to 4-0 under first-year head coach Benny Saia.

"It's a big win," Saia said after the game. "We played four and we won four. That's all we can do. That's a good football team over there. It was a physical football game."

Ascension Catholic set the tone early as Williams scored the first two touchdowns of the game on carries of 7 and 19 yards.

Central Catholic (1-3) answered in the second quarter when Davidyione Bias scored on a 3-yard run.

Later in the second, Leonard connected with Demontray Harry for a 50-yard touchdown pass. The play unfolded as a toss flea-flicker to running back Khai Prean, who pitched back to Leonard.

Williams added his third touchdown run in the third quarter, weaving his way around the left side on the 27-yard scoring play.

Later in the third, Leonard found J'Mond Tapp, who hauled in the pass and rumbled down the left sideline for a 77-yard touchdown.

Central Catholic was able to tack on points in the fourth quarter when Kye Morgel (23 carries, 71 yards) rushed for a 14-yard touchdown. By that point, the Bulldogs had cycled in reserve players.

Notably on the defensive side, Ascension Catholic recorded two interceptions. The first came when Sam Mire pulled down a deflected pass and returned it 50 yards along the right sideline. Later, Ryan Steib came down with an interception, returning the turnover three yards.

"I thought it was a great team effort," Saia said. "I never dreamed we would score 33 on them. Defensively, they scored seven and at the end snuck one in there. Defensively we're not giving up many points this year. They're playing well."

Williams led the Bulldogs in rushing with eight carries for 97 yards. Prean finished with 28 yards on four attempts. Eric Simon added three carries for 25 yards, while Ethan Lewellen contributed 22 yards on four tries.

"What can I say that hasn't been said about Jai?" Saia asked when talking about the Bulldogs' standout senior running back and linebacker. "Jai plays just as good on defense as he does on offense. You don't get that very often."

Ascension Catholic heads into district competition in week six when they travel to face White Castle for another Thursday game. This is the third season in a row the Bulldogs head into district play undefeated.

Ascension Catholic ranks first in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association poll for Class 1A.