DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Catholic High School shrugged off a sluggish start with 19 second-quarter points in a 25-7 victory against St. John on Thursday night at Floyd Boutte Stadium.
Wade Bailey rushed for 107 yards and accounted for two touchdowns as the Bulldogs (5-1 overall) claimed the District 9-1A opener for both teams.
St. John’s Trevor Curry led all rushers with 149 yards and scored the only touchdown for the Eagles (0-5).
But Ascension Catholic’s defense was tough when it needed to be as the Bulldogs notched their first victory against St. John since 2003.
“First of all, let’s give credit to St. John of Plaquemine,” Ascension Catholic coach Doug Moreau said. “They played their hearts out and played a hard-fought game. They had a good game plan. Our guys hung in there and made the plays we needed to make.
“I thought defensively we came up with some big turnovers and we were able to capitalize on a couple of them. That’s what it takes to have a good season. You have to be able to get those kinds of breaks, and capitalize on them.”
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Ascension Catholic Sam Mattingly recovered a St. John fumble, and three plays later the Bulldogs tied the game on Patrick Butler’s 37-yard TD run.
James Martin added the extra point to tie the game at 7 with 9:44 to go in the second quarter.
ACHS grabbed a 13-7 lead with 3:38 left on a 15-yard TD pass from D.J. Latino to Bailey on fourth-and-4. It was the only completed pass in the entire game.
Following a St. John punt, Bailey took an inside handoff and raced 76 yards to give the Bulldogs a 19-7 cushion with 56 seconds to go before halftime.
St. John recovered a fumble at its own 41 on Ascension Catholic’s first possession of the second half and marched to the Bulldogs 17. But ACHS turned the Eagles away on the next play by recovering a fumble after a big pileup at the Bulldogs 3.
And St. John missed another opportunity on its next possession. SJHS’ Cody Guillory recovered an Ascension Catholic fumble at the Bulldogs 29. But the Eagles couldn’t get a first down, and turned the ball over on downs at the Ascension Catholic 30.
“It’s the little things that have been hurting us all year,” St. John coach Mike Dugan said. “We make mental mistakes here or put the ball on the ground there when you’re on drives. You can’t do that, not against a good team like this. They put it to us. We made a mistake, they took advantage of it. I told our kids ‘hey, we’ve got to keep working.’ But we are getting better each week.”
ACHS sealed the game with Jacquel Wade’s 24-yard TD run with 3:42 to go.
St. John started the game on a promising note. The Eagles took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards — all on the ground — for a touchdown. Curry accounted for 55 of those yards, including an 11-yarder for a score.
Tyler St. Germain added the extra point to give the Eagles a 7-0 edge with 8:07 remaining in the first quarter.
St. John threatened to extend its lead after Curry’s 73-yard run moved the Eagles from their 1 to the ACHS 24. But the Bulldogs defense held firm and stopped the Eagles on downs at the Ascension Catholic 25.
The Bulldogs punted on the following series before getting its offense in gear by scoring on three consecutive series.