The lead, the momentum and the emotions were bouncing around like ping-pong balls when Catholic High and Carencro squared off at BREC’s Olympia Stadium in the first round of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s 5A playoffs on Friday night.
Carencro (5-5) got an outstanding game from its highly touted running backs, but Catholic (8-2) had too much Khalil Thomas, too much Nick Coomes and one last defensive play in its arsenal. It was just enough for Catholic to notch a 43-42 overtime win.
“It wasn’t a game the defensive coordinators will want to remember,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said after the two sets of Bears combined for 804 yards of total offense, “but it was a classic example of what championship playoff football is all about.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team. What a special crew — great kids. We hadn’t won a playoff game since 2009, and, believe me, they’ve caught plenty of grief about that. We built a lot of character in some losses last year, but I’d much rather build it with a win in the playoffs.”
Catholic had stretched a 22-21 halftime lead to 36-21 at the end of the third quarter on a touchdown run by Coomes that was set up by a 70-yard run by Thomas, and another on a 15-yard TD pass from Coomes to Thomas.
The visitors didn’t fold, though, and came up with 15 points in the fourth quarter, the final eight coming with :13 on the clock following an interception by Desmond Boutte and a 46-yard drive that tied the game.
Carencro had five scores on running plays. Jaylan Rose was their leading rusher with 127 yards and a touchdown, Corey Willis added 106 yards and three touchdowns, and Galen Carter gained 46 yards and scored a TD.
Coomes ran 11 times for 68 yards and two TDs. He was 7-for-14 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.
“We did a pretty good job of stopping their base plays,” Carencro coach Brent Indest said. “We just weren’t stopping their quarterback.”
Thomas was Catholic’s leading rusher with nine carries for 140 yards.
Catholic scored on their first play in overtime on Coomes’ 10-yard run, and Jack Gonsoulin kicked his fifth PAT.
Carencro answered with Corey Willis’ third TD run of the game and elected to try for a two-point conversion and the win.
The Catholic defense, led by Justin Gibson, stuffed the play before it could get started.
“Both teams had trouble stopping each other,” Carencro coach Brent Indest said. “We didn’t ever feel good about stopping them from 10 yards, so we figured go ahead and go for two and get the thing over with. Their defense stepped up there and got some penetration, and they just did a heck of a job.”
Both teams scored in the first quarter. Catholic scored first on a 34-yard run by Matthew Venable, but Carencro answered with two touchdowns by Willis on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard to take a 14-7 lead. His second run came on the third play of the second quarter after Rose had carried 24 yards to inside the 1 on the last play of the first quarter.
Derrius Guice and Coomes sparked the next Catholic scoring drive.
Guice had a 14-yard run and Coomes carried for 26 on a quarterback draw on third-and-10 before Guice took a Coomes screen pass 24 yards for the touchdown.
The visiting Bears answered with a 70-yard run by Willis who was run down by Gibson on the Catholic 11. Galen Carter scored three plays later on a 1-yard run.
Catholic followed with the final scoring drive of the half. Khalil Thomas picked up a big first down on a 39-yard burst on third-and-11 before Coomes found Connor Whalen open on the left sideline. Whalen shook one tackle and dove in for the score.
After Carencro jumped offside on the extra point try, Catholic elected to go for two, and Coomes picked up the PAT on a quarterback keeper.
The game began on a somber note with a moment of silence for Sam Barth, a Catholic High senior who died in a car accident earlier in the week.
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