LAFAYETTE — Teurlings Catholic clipped its own wings with some costly mistakes, and visiting Catholic High of Baton Rouge took full advantage, riding a huge first half to a 28-14 win.
The Rebels (3-2) turned the ball over four times, including three first-half turnovers that led directly to 21 Catholic High points.
“We didn’t play well enough against a quality opponent,” Teurlings coach Sonny Charpentier said. “You can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to win.”
The Bears (3-2) were motivated to earn a win for coach Dale Weiner, the 300th of his career. As the final seconds ticked off, Catholic doused him in a Gatorade shower and later presented him with an engraved game ball after the band played the alma mater.
Catholic set the tone from the start, with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Playing without leading rusher Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was out with a turf toe injury, the Bears turned to junior running back James Berrigan. Berrigan set the Bears up with a first-and-goal after a 17-yard run up the gut, then gave the Bears a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
The Bears also set the tone on defense. As the Rebels were driving on their first possession, quarterback Cole Kelley’s pass over the middle of the field was high and off the fingertips of his intended receiver. Catholic defensive back Tarick Johnson intercepted the ball and returned it into Teurlings territory.
That’s when Berrigan really shined. On fourth-and-6, the Bears dusted off the Statue of Liberty play. Quarterback Ian Brian pantomimed throwing to the flat while handing the ball off to Berrigan. By the time Teurlings figured out what had happened, Berrigan was sprinting down the sideline to give the Bears a 14-0 lead.
That sequence effectively described the first half.
Outside of a miraculous 35-yard touchdown pass from Kelley to senior wideout Evan Huesers on a desperation heave on fourth-and-20, Teurlings couldn’t stop shooting itself in the foot. Kelley finished the first half with three interceptions.
The Bears capitalized on the interceptions with trick plays. After Kelley’s second pick, the Bears called a double pass, with Brian throwing a backward pass to receiver Parker Sulik, who lobbed a 19-yard score to a wide-open Tyler Mason for the score, making it 21-7.
With a little more than a minute to go in the half, Teurlings opted to stay aggressive and try to cut into the lead. Kelley threw another interception, this one to a leaping Daniel Guilbeau, and Catholic once again went to the trick play to set up another score.
Weiner called Berrigan’s number again on the Statue of Liberty play, and Berrigan raced down the sideline for 27 yards. One play later, Brian gave the Bears a 28-7 lead with a 16-yard scoring pass to junior Patrick Dunn in the corner of the endzone.
“But I told the guys, they were not going to die on us,” Weiner said. “They weren’t giving up, they weren’t throwing in the towel. They’re not going to let someone come over here and walk all over them, they’re going to fight back. Sure enough, they did.”
The Rebels showed plenty of fight in the second half, but the 21-point deficit was too much to overcome.
They opened the second period with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that featured three fourth down conversions, including a 1-yard TD run by Kelley on fourth-and-goal to get within 14.
But on their next possession, the Rebels converted yet another fourth down — their sixth of the game — but the Bears sacked Kelley on back-to-back plays to force the Rebels to punt for the first time of the game. Charpentier called that the turning point.
Teurlings will open district play next week in a homecoming game against Northside.