Episcopal stays undefeated by topping Ascension Catholic

With a defense that continually responded with critical stops, all Episcopal was looking for was one final statement from its offense to seal the deal.

That finally occurred in the final three minutes, when reserve quarterback William D’Armond drove the Knights for an insurance touchdown, sneaking over from 1 yard out to secure a 22-7 victory Friday over Ascension Catholic at Episcopal’s Memorial Field.

The combination of Episcopal’s stingy defense and the running of Clement Mubungirwa, who paced his team with 178 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, helped the Knights improve to 5-0 heading back into District 6-2A play at East Feliciana.

“Anytime in this profession, you always feel like you can improve,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “We’re going to harp to the team that they’re 5-0 but we can still get better. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s still good to be 5-0 with a tough task next week.”

Ascension Catholic (3-2) took a 7-0 lead on its first drive with quarterback D.J. Latino finding DeAndre Francis behind the coverage on a 42-yard scoring play.

The Knights answered with a pair of touchdowns from Mubungirwa — 28 yards midway through the first quarter and a 4-yarder with 3:56 left before halftime for a 15-7 edge.

“We knew they were a quality program and to beat them we would have to do well,” ACHS coach Doug Moreau said. “I thought we could beat them, but we didn’t come up with all the plays we needed. I tip my hat to them. They did a good job; they ran the ball on us.”

Between the second scoring run from Mubungirwa and D’Armond’s sneak — a span of nearly 30 minutes — the story of the game was the resolve of Episcopal’s defense.

Following its opening scoring drive, Ascension Catholic had five other series that ended between Episcopal’s 37 to 21 with the Bulldogs, who recovered a fumble and had an interception in that span, coming up empty each time on fourth-down attempts.

“We’re relying on our defense a lot, especially tonight,” Bourgeois said. “For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing what we needed to do on the offensive side of the ball. We struggled tonight, and we were very fortunate our defense kept giving us the ball back and giving us opportunities.”

Episcopal kept its final scoring drive all on the ground — six plays covering 63 yards — and wound up with 240 yards on 42 carries. D’Armond added 31 yards on five attempts in relief of starter Jason Roussel.

Latino, who left for two plays late in the third quarter with an injury, completed 8 of 22 passes for 159 yards but was picked off by Christian Hebert with 2:28 to go. Francis led the Bulldogs with four catches for 102 yards.

Episcopal overcame an early 7-0 deficit with consecutive touchdowns for a 15-7 halftime lead.

The Knights answered the Bulldogs’ opening score with an eight-play, 63-yard drive that consumed more than four minutes, with Mubungirwa darting 28 yards over the left side. Polk Kellum’s two-point run resulted in a 8-7 lead.

Mubungirwa ignited his team’s go-ahead drive with a 40-yard burst over the right side, carrying a tackler 15 yards near the end of the run. That set up his own 4-yard score on first-and-goal with 3:56 before halftime.

“You have to be solid fundamentally anytime you play an offense like that,” Bourgeois said.

“You have to play your responsibilities and trust your teammates. As we went along, we got back to the basics, and our guys did a nice job.”