Late Crusader surge too much for Lions
For a while, Ascension Christian hung toe to toe with undefeated Westminster Christian on Friday night. The Lions even looked like they could be upset bound as they took a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter.
But as the second half progressed, Westminster’s passing game began to click. When paired with a crucial Ascension Christian turnover late in the third, the Crusaders took a 28-14 advantage.
From there, it was all Westminster. The Crusaders broke off some big touchdown runs against an exhausted Lion defense to roll to a 42-21 victory.
“Defensively, we had some lapses, and the fumble hurt us,” Ascension Christian head coach Josh Puryear said, “I just thought that in this game, we didn’t capitalize off of their turnovers when we needed to. We let a lot of plays slip. I thought there were times in that first half when we could have jumped on them, but credit them. Those guys are tough, and they brought it to us in the second half.”
It was Ascension Christian’s first home game of the season. The Lions’ previous two outings had to be played away due to damages to their home stadium that were sustained during Hurricane Ida.
The Lions got off to a great start in the first quarter as Wyatt Stafford came up with an interception, but Ascension Christian could not capitalize. Quarterback Ethan Cormier was picked off at the Westminster 22.
The Crusaders then marched 78 yards in eight plays to score and take a 7-0 lead.
But Ascension Christian answered back quickly. On the Lions’ ensuing drive, Cormier hit Emory Templet for a 35-yard score to tie the game.
The game remained deadlocked at 7-7 at halftime.
On Ascension Christian’s opening possession of the second half, the Lions marched 47 yards in nine plays. They then took a 14-7 lead after a three-yard touchdown run by Cormier on an option keeper.
But from then on, the Crusaders dominated.
Westminster drove 61 yards in six plays. The drive was aided by completions of 26 and 25 yards. The Crusaders scored on the ground to tie the game.
Westminster forced a quick three-and-out. When the Crusaders got the ball back, they went on a seven-play drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown completion. It gave them the lead late in the third.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ascension Christian fumbled the ball away, and the Crusaders recovered it at the Lion 30.
On the very next play, Westminster scored on a long touchdown run to up its lead to 28-14.
The Crusaders added two more long scoring scampers in the quarter to take a comfortable 42-14 advantage.
Ascension Christian finally got back on the board late in the game when Stafford scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to make it 42-21.
“Even though this sucks, we still have a lot of young guys and a lot of guys that are learning,” Puryear said. “There are some bright spots in there and some things we can work on. I feel like this will make us better as the season goes on.”
Westminster out-gained Ascension Christian, 402-275.
Cormier passed for 52 yards and a score, and he ran for 36 yards and another touchdown.
Adin Carter had 55 yards rushing, Stafford had 48, Ethan Hunt had 46 and Braden Tregre had 38.