Catholic overpowers East Ascension with big plays, second-half surge
Catholic High had no luck putting together drives in the first half Friday night. The Bears ran 24 plays, scored no points, had three turnovers and trailed 3-0.
Conventional wisdom would tell you that fourth-ranked Catholic would be in trouble if they ran just 17 plays in second half.
There was nothing conventional about the second half as Catholic used big plays score of five straight drives to notch a stunning 35-3 come-from-behind win over No. 3 East Ascension at EAHS’ Spartan Stadium.
“Coach told us we got started slow and we had to pick it up,” Catholic running back Braelen Morgan said. “And we were on it. We really didn’t change anything. We pushed harder.”
Morgan was a key part of the second-half surge with three touchdowns, including an 84-yard run on an option pitch from quarterback Cameron Dartez. He also caught TD passes of 25 and 7 yards for Dartez as the Bears scored on five of six second-half drives.
Joshua Parker had a game-high 120 yards rushing on 13 carries with a 53-yard TD run for the Bears (7-1, 3-0), who had 307 second-half yards and claimed control of the District 5-5A race. Dartez shook off three first-half interceptions to pass for 83 yards and run for 47. Elijah Reames had four sacks to pace the Catholic defense.
Jason Wakefield completed 21 of 39 passes for 194 yards for East Ascension. Jyrin Johnson had five catches for 86 yards for the Spartans (7-1, 2-1), who saw their seven-game winning streak end. Having 11 penalties for 77 yards hampered the home team.
“That was quicksand. I tell our guys all the time you can’t win a race if your shoes are tied together,” East Ascension coach Darnell Lee said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, and you can’t beat a good team that way. You can cry about refs or whatever, but we did it. The question now is how are we going to get better from this.”
East Ascension had the only scoring drive in the first quarter. The Spartans got to the Catholic 1. A holding penalty forced East Ascension to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Alberto Ontiveros with 4:36 left in the first period. Catholic drove to the EAHS 32 twice. The Bears’ Cole Cazenave’s 49-yard field goal try was off the mark.
The big number for the East Ascension defense was three, as in three first-half interceptions of Dartez. The Catholic quarterback had thrown only two interceptions in the first seven games.
Jyrin Elster, Jalen Norman and Javon Carter each intercepted a pass for the Spartans. Wakefield’s 51-yard pass to Johnson helped set up the EAHS field goal.
“I really believe our offseason program paid off,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “We’ve played well in the second half all year and did again tonight. We really did not change anything. We continued to do what we do.”
Dartez ran for 36 yards to jump start the first Catholic drive of the second half and then tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Morgan to make it 7-3 with 7:24 left in the third quarter.
Reames had a sack to help force an EAHS punt. The Bears scored twice in 1:39 to take control. First, Dartez tossed a 7-yard TD pass to Morgan to make it 14-3 with 1:51 left. Then Parker broke a 53-yard TD run that gave Catholic a 21-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Morgan’s 84-yard run and a 68-yard TD run by Jake Outlaw completed the tally.
Article Credit: Advocate | Robin Fambrough
Photo Credit: Advocate | April Buffington