FOOTBALL

East Ascension's playoff run ends against Covington

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Covington's C.J. Sims ran for 241 yards and three scores against the Spartans. Photo by Dewey Keller.

Covington knocked East Ascension to the canvas early as they jumped on top 20-0. The Spartans eventually got back up and fought for their playoff lives, but it was too little, too late as they fell to the upset-minded Lions 27-21.

"It was a game of two halves," East Ascension head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "The first half was us doing just about everything we could have done wrong and giving them a 20-0 lead. If we just had a little more time and played like we did in the second half, I think we would have had a much better chance."

The early hole the third-seeded Spartans dug themselves into was fueled by offensive miscues and the inability to stop C.J. Sims and Covington's dominating Power-I rushing attack.

East Ascension fumbled the ball away on their very first offensive play as the ball hit the ground on a bad exchange between quarterback Layne Trahan and running back Joshua Walker. The Lions recovered it at the Spartan 22-yard line.

Just five plays later, Sims went to work as he powered his way up the middle for a five-yard score to give Covington the early 7-0 lead.

Later, the miscues continued as Walker had trouble fielding a punt. He finally corralled it at the East Ascension 1-yard line.

The Spartans were held to a quick three-and-out and forced to punt from out of their end zone. That allowed Covington to take over at the East Ascension 30.

Seven plays later, Dylan Savarese scored from 11 yards out on a naked bootleg.

Up 14-0 to start the second quarter, the onslaught continued for the Lions as they drove 78 yards on 10 plays and cashed in with a 24-yard touchdown run by Sims right up the gut. The extra point was missed, but Covington took complete control with a 20-0 lead.

Finally, with the first half winding down, the Spartan offense got something going after their defense recovered a fumble at the Lion 44-yard line.

East Ascension drove downfield in six plays. And on fourth-and-six, the Spartans finally got on the board with some trickery.

Trahan threw a backward pass to Chad Hill, and Hill lofted it up into the end zone where Josh Andrews made a beautiful catch between two defenders. The score cut the Covington lead to 20-7 at the half.

However, Sims and the Lion rushing attack went right back to work in the third quarter. He exploded off-tackle for an electric 82-yard touchdown run to extend the Covington lead to 27-7.

Back in the 20-point hole, the Spartans spanned 65 yards in 10 plays and cut the advantage to 27-14 when Hill scored from four yards out on an end-around.

Later, Luke Lambert picked off Savarese and returned it all the way to the Lion 10-yard line, but Trahan was picked off in the end zone just three plays later.

It didn't break the Spartans' will though. They got the ball again and with the help of a pass interference and two Covington personal foul calls, they moved 75 yards in five plays.

Along the way, they converted a fourth-and-25 on a brilliant hook-and-ladder play between Hill and Kade Waguespack.

Finally, East Ascension cut the lead to 27-21 when Hill went in as wildcat quarterback and scored from four yards out on an option-keeper.

But with just 3:36 remaining, the ensuing Spartan onside kick attempt went out of bounds, and the Lion rushing attack was able to grind out first downs and bleed the clock.

The upset-loss prevented East Ascension from making their first appearance in the quarterfinals since 2003.

The difference in the game was the dominating Lion rushing attack. They piled up 358 yards on the ground. Sims alone had 29 carries for 241 yards and three scores.

The Spartan offense struggled all night. Trahan was only able to complete 11 of 25 passes for 81 yards, and he was picked off twice. Hill accounted for 88 of East Ascension's 182 total yards and two of their three scores.

East Ascension had a great year--finishing 8-2 and making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in eight years. But as happy as Coach Bourgeois was about those accomplishments, he was understandably disappointed with how things ended for his team.

"When you get a group, you've got the goal, and this is one of those groups," Bourgeois said. "Is regionals good enough? I wanted to get further for this group of kids; they deserve it."