Lions complete biggest comeback in school history

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Ascension Christian linebacker Brennan Tramonte had 13 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one interception on Friday night. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Ascension Christian won their fifth straight game on Friday night, but it didn’t come easy. It took the biggest comeback in school history.

The Lions found themselves down 40-18 at halftime to KIPP Booker T. Washington at home.

That’s when sophomore quarterback Derrick Varnado took over. Varnado accounted for four second-half touchdowns, allowing Ascension Christian to outscore KIPP, 38-8, in the final two quarters to earn a 56-48 victory.

Early in the game, the teams went back and forth, trading scores.

The Lions were able to take an 18-14 lead early in the second quarter. They scored on a six-yard touchdown connection between Varnado and Tyler Cambre and two scores on the ground by Varnado.

However, KIPP responded with a string of 26 unanswered points to close out the half.

First, they marched 59 yards in eight plays and went up 20-18 with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyrese Johnson to Isaih Williams.

It took just two plays to extend the lead to 26-18 as Johnson broke loose on a 20-yard touchdown run.

KIPP’s next drive saw them cover 75 yards in just four plays. They went up 32-18 with a 17-yard touchdown run by Johnson.

Finally, KIPP was able to close out the half with a 15-yard touchdown run by Johnson, following a fumble recovery at the Lion 20-yard line.

Down 22 at the break, things looked bleak for the Lions, but they never quit.

The 40-18 KIPP lead lasted until late in the third quarter. That’s when Ascension Christian began their comeback with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Varnado to Cambre to cut the deficit to 40-26.

Though, KIPP answered right back. They extended the advantage to 48-26 with a 66-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Acadia Alexander to start the fourth quarter.

Jaden Barton kept Ascension Christian alive with a 50-yard return on the ensuing kickoff.

The Lions spanned 40 yards in just four plays and cut the deficit down to 48-32 with a three-yard touchdown run by Varnado.

After forcing a three-and-out on KIPP’s next possession, Ascension Christian got the ball back at their opponent’s 49-yard line and went back on the move.

Varnado connected with Cambre for another touchdown—this one went for nine yards to cut it to a one-score game at 48-40.

The Lion defense then got into the act. On KIPP’s next drive, Johnson was picked off by Brennan Tramonte. The interception gave Ascension Christian the ball at the KIPP 21-yard line.

Two plays later, Landon Ortego scored from two yards out. Varnado then converted the ensuing 2-point try on the ground to tie the contest with 5:20 remaining.

KIPP looked well on their way to winning the game as they got the ball and drove down to the Lion 28-yard line with just over three minutes remaining, but Johnson fumbled the ball, and Tramonte recovered.

With time running low, the Lions got downfield in a hurry.

They took the lead with a 52-yard touchdown connection from Varnado to Brady Gueho. With the 2-point try, they went up 56-48 with just over a minute remaining in the contest.

The game went down to the final play.

After a big return on the ensuing kickoff, KIPP took over at the Ascension Christian 35. They reached the 25.

There, Johnson hit Alexander for 23 yards, but Brandon Suggs came up with a huge tackle at the 2-yard line as time expired. It allowed the Lions to complete the biggest comeback in school history.

In the losing effort, Johnson was sensational. He went 18-31 for 314 yards with three touchdowns. He added 150 yards rushing and four scores on the ground.

Varnado wasn’t too far behind.

He threw for 239 yards and four touchdowns on just 11 completions. On the ground, he carried the ball 21 times for 94 yards and three scores.

Gueho had four catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while Cambre piled up 81 yards and three scores through the air.

The defensive leader was Tramonte as he made 13 tackles, a half a sack, one interception and two fumble recoveries.

The victory improved Ascension Christian to 6-2. They’ll now host 2-6 Vill Platte.