Bulldogs run past Eagles in home jamboree
In their final dress rehearsal before the season opener, Ascension Catholic used two long, proficient drives and some hard-nosed defense to take down Episcopal, 12-6, in their Thursday night jamboree.
The Bulldogs began the first 15-minute half with a six-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, and they began the second half with a 15-play, 86-yard drive that ended with what turned out to be the winning score.
"That’s what I want us to be. I want us to be able to grind the ball, eat the clock up and score," Ascension Catholic head coach Benny Saia said. "The thing that I was proudest of was that we made some adjustments at halftime, and they executed them.
"Defensively, we gave up the one touchdown, but for a majority of the night, they played well. They made some mistakes, but we held a pretty good football team to just six points."
This was the Bulldogs' first live-game action under Saia. After a two-year break from coaching, the longtime Dutchtown head coach took over at Ascension Catholic last fall, following the resignation of Drey Trosclair.
With Saia's arrival, the Bulldogs have changed up their offense. They still feature a heavy dose of the run game, but they are operating out of the Wing-T formation, instead of the spread. They have also done away with an up-temp, no-huddle attack.
On the opening drive of the game, the Bulldogs were faced with a third-and-eight. First-year starting quarterback Jacob Dunn hit J'Mond Tapp for 31 yards.
On the very next play, returning All-State running back Jai Williams knifed up the middle untouched for a 19-yard touchdown. However, the extra point was missed.
Later, Episcopal put together their one productive offensive drive of the game. They marched 54 yards downfield in just three plays to score. But after they failed to convert a two-point try, the game remained tied at 6-6.
Right before the half, Ascension Catholic drove into Episcopal territory following a beautiful interception by Brock Acosta, but they had to settle for a 37-yard field goal, which was wide left.
On the Bulldogs' first possession of the second half, they were faced with a third-and-12. Again, Dunn hooked up with Tapp--this time for 32 yards.
On the 15th play of the march, Williams pounded the ball in from three yards out to regain the lead for the Bulldogs.
Before the drive, Dunn had completed just one pass. On that drive alone, he tallied four completions for 71 yards.
With a 12-6 lead, the Bulldog defense didn't allow a single Eagle first down for the rest of the game.
In the victory, Williams carried the ball 14 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
Dunn completed five of eight passes for 102 yards. Tapp had two of those completions, totaling 63 yards.
Now, Ascension Catholic will ready itself for its season opener. They'll be on the road against St. Thomas Aquinas. They're a squad from Class 2A that finished 5-5 last season.
There is one area that Saia sees the Bulldogs needing the most improvement.
"We have to get better in special teams. I knew that was going to be ugly because we haven’t practiced it because of the weather," Saia said. "We walked though it in the gym. You need to practice that out on the grass. You need to be able to get some quality reps with that. Those are all things that are correctable.
"Thank the good Lord that we came out healthy. We just have to get back to work. Hopefully, this hurricane turns somewhere else and we get to practice. The biggest thing is just getting them more reps.”