Miscues cost EAHS in loss to Comets

Aaron Looney

Despite a defensive first half that saw the East Ascension Spartans down only 7-0 at halftime, costly mistakes including a fumble and three interceptions plagued the Spartans in a 21-6 setback to St. Charles Catholic in their home opener at Spartan Stadium Friday night.

East Ascension moved to 0-2 on the season with the loss, while St. Charles Catholic of District 9-3A evened its record to 1-1 on the season.

After the game, East Ascension head coach John Lambert said that certain calls on the offensive side of the ball did not work in the Spartans’ favor.

“As head coach and offensive coordinator, it was my calls,” Lambert said. “I put our team into some tough situations and they didn’t work out. We’re just struggling right now to find an identity on offense. We just have to keep working and trying to get better.”

“East Ascension is a very explosive football team,” St. Charles Catholic head coach Frank Monica said. “They have a great front seven on defense. We didn’t know if we’d be able to throw against their secondary, so we had to pick and choose our times to throw the ball. I thought we held onto the ball better than we did last week. It was definitely a battle, and I’m happy to get out of here with a win.”

East Ascension won the total yardage contest on the night, running 61 plays and finishing with 289 yards of offense to St. Charles’ 116 yards on 40 plays. The Spartans also gained 15 first downs in the contest to the Comets’ nine.

St. Charles Catholic edged the Spartans on the ground with 122 rushing yards on 35 carries. Sophomore running back Stafford Jones led the Comets with 61 yards on 13 carries, two of which were for touchdowns. For East Ascension, junior Avery Williams carried 15 times for 50 yards and scored the Spartans’ only touchdown.

Senior Spartan quarterback Adam Trahan finished with an impressive 167 yards through the air Friday, completing 11 of his 22 pass attempts. However, Trahan also had three of his passes intercepted, including one in the Comet end zone to quell a Spartan red zone drive. Sophomore backup quarterback Emerson Foster went 2-for-3 in passing in the fourth quarter for 34 yards.

Junior running back Justin Pelle led the Spartan receivers with 58 yards on three grabs. Sophomore Randall Williams caught five passes for 53 yards, while Matt Richard collected 36 yards on one catch.

For St. Charles Catholic, Marc Picciola went 2-for-5 passing for 26 yards.

The teams were near even in time of possession, with East Ascension holding the ball for 25:28 to St. Charles Catholic’s 22:32.

Richard also led the Spartan defense with nine tackles on the night.

Penalties proved costly for both teams. The Spartans were flagged 10 times for 57 yards, while St. Charles Catholic lost 60 yards on seven penalties.

After forcing St. Charles Catholic to punt on the game’s opening possession, East Ascension found itself pinned back deep in its own territory. After getting back to their own 35, the drive ended when Bailey lost his grip on the ball. The Comets recovered the fumble at the Spartan 24, but later gave the ball back when running back Courtland Taylor fumbled at the Spartan 26.

Q’Darius Lomas recovered for East Ascension at the Spartan 26. East Ascension was later forced to punt after the ensuing drive stalled at midfield.

After reaching the Comet 3-yard line, the Spartans made the first threat to score the second quarter. However, after a Williams run went for no gain, kicker Brandon Ruiz missed a 20-yard field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.

On the next series for St. Charles Catholic, the Comets moved down the field from their 20 all the way to the Spartan 3. A pass interference penalty in the end zone on East Ascension put the ball at the Spartan 1 before Jones punched the ball into the end zone two plays later for the touchdown. James Krawezyk’s extra point kick put St. Charles Catholic on top 7-0 with 26 seconds left until halftime.

After punting away on its first drive of the second half, East Ascension prepared to return a punt. However, returner Dustin Day lost the ball and St. Charles Catholic recovered at the East Ascension 5 to set up a two-play scoring drive. Jones took the second-down handoff in from three yards out for the score. After Krawczyk’s kick, St. Charles upped its lead to 14-0 six minutes remaining in the quarter.

East Ascension took the kick and marched down the field in 12 plays to the Comet 9. However, the drive ended on a fourth-and-five play when Matt Murphy picked off Trahan’s pass in the end zone to stop the threat and keep the Comets’ lead into the fourth quarter.

The Spartans’ first drive of the final period, which brought them to the Comet 17, ended when Trahan threw his second interception of the night. On a second down pass attempt, St. Charles Catholic’s Just Vicknair grabbed Trahan’s pass and returned the ball 62 yards to the Spartan 14. Five plays later, St. Charles Catholic found the end zone on a Taylor 11-yard run around the offensive right side. Krawczyk’s extra point increased the Comets’ lead to 21-0 with 5:43 left in the game.

East Ascension broke its scoring drought on the next series, as Williams broke through from a yard out to cap a 47-yard drive. Stafford missed the extra-point kick attempt, leaving East Ascension to face a 21-6 deficit with just under three minutes remaining in the game.

After the Spartans recovered an onside kick at midfield, a long first-down pass attempt by Trahan went for naught as Fryoux came up with his second interception of the night for St. Charles Catholic at the Comet 21. St. Charles Catholic then punted the ball away to the Spartans, who moved to the Comet 26 on a pair of pass completions from Foster to Williams and Pelle. However, Foster’s final two pass attempts fell incomplete as time expired.

Lambert praised the effort of his players in the loss, but said he felt work was needed to improve before heading into the meat of the Spartans’ schedule.

“These guys did not give up on me tonight, and I’m not giving up on them,” Lambert said. “I believe in these guys. They played tough and did everything I asked of them. We just need to get better in a lot of aspects of the game if we’re going to compete this year.”

East Ascension will next travel to face another District 9-3A opponent in Lutcher, who fell to Class 5A Thibodaux Friday night.