Lions earn record win in shootout

Kyle Riviere
Grace King's August Williams is chased down by a pride of Lions in Ascension Catholic's record-setting 51-44 victory. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Ascension Christian couldn't stop Grace King's August Williams on Friday night, but thankfully for the Lions, the Irish defense couldn't stop them.

At home, Ascension Christian fell down by 9 midway through the third quarter, but behind 377 total yards by Peyton Bahlinger and an Ian Carter onside kick, the Lions were able to roar back.

They captured a thrilling 51-44 shootout victory that set a new school record for most wins in a season at seven.

"I was proud of them. They showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness," Ascension Christian head coach Josh Puryear said. "We couldn't stop them all night. They were running up and down on us for some big yards, but we needed something like this. We need these tough games. It builds character and toughness for our guys."

Early on, it looked like the Lions would run away with things as they followed up a big kickoff return by K'Von Delone with a six-play, 32-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown run by Bahlinger.

However, Grace King responded with a 10-play, 86-yard drive. On fourth and goal from the Lion 6, Williams took it into the end zone. The Irish converted the 2-point try to give them an 8-7 lead.

After the two teams exchanged scores, Ascension Christian raced downfield with a 31-yard connection between Bahlinger and Carter.

Not long afterward, Bahlinger scored on a four-yard option-keeper to regain the lead for the Lions at 21-16.

But before the half, the Irish got downfield in a hurry.

They drove 65 yards in just five plays, and Williams gave them a 24-21 halftime lead with a five-yard touchdown run.

Grace King kept the momentum going in the second half as they began the third quarter with the ball and marched 53 yards in nine plays. Along the way, they converted a third and 15.

They extended their advantage to 30-21 with a one-yard touchdown run by Williams.

The Lions countered with back-to-back scores to take the lead.

First, Bahlinger connected with Delone for a 46-yard touchdown.

Then, after a short Carter kick that the Irish failed to recover, the Lions moved 40 yards in seven plays and took a 35-30 advantage after a four-yard touchdown run by Brye Templet.

Williams scored his fourth touchdown of the game to put the Irish back up 38-35 in the fourth, but the Lions never wavered.

Bahlinger went back to dealing. He hit Carter for 41 yards to the 1, and on the next play, Templet scored to put the Lions ahead, 43-38.

On the ensuing kickoff, Ascension Christian made the biggest play of the game as they recovered a Carter onside kick.

Just four plays later, the Lions took their largest lead of the game at 51-38 with a two-yard touchdown run by Bahlinger.

Grace King eventually scored to cut the deficit to 7, but Ascension Christian was able to hold on to clinch their seventh victory of the season.

The two teams combined for 95 points and 948 yards.

Williams had a game for the ages as he carried the ball 35 times for a ridiculous 344 yards and five touchdowns.

As for Ascension Christian, Bahlinger threw for 259 yards and two scores, while running for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

His favorite receiver was Carter. He had nine catches for 188 yards and a touchdown.

Templet added 108 yards and a score on the ground.

As great as the offensive productivity was for the Lions, it was Ascension Christian's special teams that stole the show as they recovered three onside kicks and also forced a fumble on another kickoff.

"Special teams were really big. It was really our best defense tonight," Puryear said. "We really couldn't stop them. We knew we could score; we just had to get the ball. We wanted to prevent them from getting those long drives, but we were excited with how our special teams played."

The come-from-behind victory capped off a very special night for the Lions.

"It's big for us. The guys work hard," Puryear said. "Every team we've faced this year, they've been bigger than us, but our guys fight. They work hard and they show a lot of toughness. It's big for the program. It shows that we're headed in the right direction, and we hope to continue this success into the future."