LAFAYETTE — It may have taken Central Catholic Eagles some time to get going Friday, but in the end, it really didn’t matter as the squad came through when it had to and eventually routed Ascension Episcopal, 56-22, at Clark Field Friday.
Early on, the Eagles trailed as the Blue Gators’ Blue Beadle picked off a Luke Landry pass in AES territory on CCHS first drive and returned it to the Eagles’ 7.
Two plays later, Beadle scored on a 5-yard run for a 7-0 AES lead with 8:55 remaining in the first quarter.
While the Eagles’ (4-3 overall, 1-0 in District 8-1A) tied the Blue Gators (0-6, 0-2) on CCHS’ next drive via a beautiful one-handed grab by CCHS freshman Stephano Guarisco on a 19-yard pass from Landry and took the lead a possession later on a Josh Protti 2-yard run, they couldn’t shake AES initially.
A little more than a minute after Protti’s score, AES’ Joey Greco, the squad’s workhorse at running back, broke up the middle, and with no Eagles near him, headed to the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 with 1:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Despite giving up the big play, it was the Eagles’ defense that helped the squad pull away.
After Landry scored on a 10-yard run to help the Eagles take a 21-14 lead with 25.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the CCHS defense came up big as it recovered an attempted option pitch from AES’ Trevor Doucet to Lucas Duhon at the Ascension Episcopal 30.
On the Eagles’ first offensive play following the turnover, Landry found Hoffpauir for a 30-yard touchdown, even after a fumbled snap, for a 28-14 CCHS advantage with 9.6 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The Eagles never were threatened again.
CCHS coach David Fuhrer couldn’t explain the slow start, but he was happy about the end result, a 1-0 mark in district.
“Once we kind of settled down and started rolling, things started clicking,” Fuhrer said. “Defense played well, and then offense kind of got cranked up, and (we) came out with a win.”
The Eagles were without explosive playmaker Dontrel Brown, who Fuhrer said the coach staff decided not to play at the advice of their training staff. The move was to allow him time to recover from a minor injury in time for Thursday’s game against Gueydan.
Already ahead 28-14 Friday, the Eagles padded their lead later in the second quarter via a Justin Arceneaux interception return for a touchdown with 41.4 seconds remaining in the first half for a 35-14 CCHS advantage.
The Eagles would add touchdowns in the third quarter via a 33-yard pass from Landry to Guarisco with 6:48 remaining, and a Landry 60-yard run with 2:58 remaining.
Landry led the Eagles’ offense with seven carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while through the air, he completed 9 of 17 passes for 158 yards and three more scores. He also threw one interception.
The Eagles closed the scoring after CCHS’ Jalen Johnson recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Protti punched the ball in the end zone five plays later on a 5-yard run.
Ascension Episcopal added a touchdown late on a Beadle 29-yard run with 22.4 seconds remaining. The Blue Gators converted the two-point conversion for the final points.
Besides Landry, Protti finished the game with 16 carries for 126 yards and two scores, while Singleton led the CCHS receivers with four receptions for 60 yards, while Guarisco added two grabs for 52 yards and two scores and Hoffpauir had two receptions for 40 yards and a score.
As a team, CCHS rolled up 454 yards of total offense (277 rushing and 173 passing).
Greco led AES with 21 carries for 139 yards and a score, while Beadle added eight carries for 36 yards and two scores.
“Our kids play as well as they can play given their talent, given their ability,” AES coach Randy Johnson said. “You measure up our kids to their kids man-to-man, person-to-person, position-to-position — I mean I’m not making excuses — they’re better. But our kids don’t quit. I couldn’t be prouder of them. Coach Fuhrer does a fantastic job with those young men … They play hard. They play fast. But our kids I think at least stood up to them person to person, man to man.”
CCHS will return to action Thursday when it hosts Gueydan in another District 8-1A contest, while Ascension Episcopal will travel to Hanson Memorial Friday, also for a District 8-1A contest.