Bulldogs fall hard in state title game
After being undermanned in their state championship loss last season to Lafayette Christian, Ascension Catholic waited for a year to finally get their rematch against the Knights when they were at full strength.
They got that rematch in the Division-IV title game at the Superdome on Thursday night. But Lafayette Christian was at full strength as well, and they were just too good.
The Knights used big pass plays and three non-offensive touchdowns to rattle off 42 second-half points and turn a 14-7 game at halftime into a resounding 56-7 victory.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Lafayette Christian. They played a really good ball game. They deserved the championship with the way they played,” Bulldog head coach Drey Trosclair said. “They put together a four-quarter game. Obviously, in that second half, we didn’t play the type of football we expected to play.”
Ascension Catholic began the game in the worst possible way.
Lafayette Christian received the opening kickoff, and on the very first play, quarterback Zach Clement hit receiver Errol Rogers, Jr. for a 59-yard touchdown to put them ahead 7-0.
But the Bulldogs didn’t get shell-shocked. They put together an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass of their own. Quarterback John Mire went play-action and hit a wide-open Andrew Landry for a 22-yard score to tie the game.
But Lafayette Christian answered quickly, marching 69 yards in six plays. Clement regained the lead for them with a 37-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs looked like they were on their way to responding at the beginning of the second quarter when they drove to the Knight 31, but a halfback pass by Jai Williams was picked off, ending the scoring threat.
But Ascension Catholic did get a huge momentum boost before the half.
Lafayette Christian drove inside their 10-yard line. They opted to go for a fourth-and-one, and the Bulldog defense stuffed them, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs.
The game turned on two second-half plays.
To begin the second half, Ascension Catholic got the ball and drove to the Knight 36-yard line, but on third-and-one, they lost two yards, forcing them to punt.
Lafayette Christian took advantage, going 65 yards in six plays and taking a 21-7 lead with a four-yard touchdown run by Clement.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, they were forced to punt. The snap went over Rodney Blanchard’s head and fell into the end zone. The Knights recovered it for a score to put them ahead 28-7.
From there, it snowballed for Ascension Catholic.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” Trosclair said. “We have a good punter that can flip the field position and get those guys at least on the minute-45, minus-40-yard line if he’s able to kick the ball like he’s capable of. The snap got away from him. The snap was high, and he did what he could to try to pick it up, but that was the turning point in the game.”
In the fourth quarter, Lafayette Christian turned two Bulldog interceptions into two touchdowns, and they also returned a punt for a score. It all contributed to a 28-point fourth-quarter explosion.
The Bulldog defense had no answer for Clement. He only completed six passes, but they went for 222 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 109 yards and two scores.
Meanwhile, Williams had a record-breaking performance in defeat.
He set a state championship record with 40 carries. He totaled 262 yards, which is a record for most yards in a Class 1A/Division-IV state title game.
He was named the Bulldogs’ Most Outstanding Player.
Ascension Catholic ended the year with an overall record of 12-2.
“They didn’t give up. They didn’t quit,” Trosclair said. “These guys have worked so hard for the entire season going all the way back to June and July when we were working out in the weight room. To get to this point in back-to-back years, I’m so proud of this team and the rest of my coaching staff for putting us in the position to win a state championship.
“We fell a little short of our goal, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys. They handled themselves with class in defeat tonight, and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”