Spartans fall just short against No. 1 Broncos

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
East Ascension quarterback Troy Dunn threw two touchdown passes in the Spartans’ 24-21 loss to Zachary.

For the second straight season, East Ascension faced the top-seeded team in the second round of the playoffs. And for the second straight season, the Spartans fell short of pulling off the upset.

Last year, the Spartans were dealt a blowout defeat against eventual champion Acadiana. This time around, the game was much closer.

East Ascension hung with Zachary from start to finish. The Spartans even held a 14-0 lead at the start of the game. But in the end, the Broncos did just enough to survive and advance, escaping Gonzales with a 24-21 victory.

East Ascension was able to host the game following a first-round upset of Southside, a game the Spartans won with ease, 42-26—their sixth straight first-round victory.

The second-round matchup against Zachary was only the Spartans’ second game of the season at home on their new artificial turf.

The Broncos came into the contest undefeated and being led by their four-star Texas A&M commit at quarterback, Eli Holstein.

But early on, Holstein had no answers for the East Ascension defense. The Spartans forced him to fumble the ball away on the Broncos’ first three offensive possessions.

East Ascension made Zachary pay for those turnovers, scoring touchdowns following two of them.

Quarterback Troy Dunn threw touchdown passes to Allen Starks and Joseph Hobdy to give the Spartans a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter.

But then Zachary went on a 24-0 run.

In the second quarter, Holstein hit Kameran Senegal for a 60-yard score. Later, Holstein scored on a one-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 at the half.

On Zachary’s first possession of the third quarter, the Broncos went on a methodical drive and took their first lead of the game with a nine-yard touchdown run by Connor Wisham.

That gave Zachary a 21-14 lead. The Broncos extended that lead late in the game when Kellen Conachen hit a 21-yard field goal.

That put East Ascension in a 24-14 hole, but the Spartan offense finally woke up and responded.

East Ascension put together an eight-play, 70-yard drive. Along the way, the Spartans converted a fourth-and-11.

Zhavier Jupiter put East Ascension on the board with a five-yard touchdown run that cut the Zachary lead to 24-21 with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

The Spartans needed a big stop on Zachary’s next drive. They held the Broncos to a third-and-five, but Holstein converted with an eight-yard pass to Charles Robertson.

That first down iced the game for Zachary.

The close victory pushed the Broncos through to the state quarterfinals, where they’ll play eighth-seeded West Monroe.

Senegal and Robertson combined for 207 receiving yards, and Holstein went 13-19 for 227 yards with a touchdown.

But the East Ascension defense made Zachary work all night. The 24 points the Broncos scored were the fewest they’ve scored all season. Before Friday night, Zachary’s lowest offensive output was 35 points.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, they couldn’t get much going offensively. East Ascension was only able to muster 190 total yards.

The Spartans’ season comes to a close with an overall record of 6-4.