YOUNGSVILLE — Ascension Episcopal put up a fight against a bigger and faster team, but Southern Lab recovered from the early jabs to run away with a convincing 44-19 win on the road.
It didn’t help the Gators’ cause when star running back Ja’Ceiry Linzer went down with a knee injury on the last play of the first quarter. Linzer, who rushed for 1,582 yards in the regular season, spent most of the game on the trainer’s table.
But even without its best player, AES fought hard, and Southern Lab (7-5) might not have been ready for such a fight early on.
“I told the guys before the game that these guys weren’t just going to lay down and let us win, but I think they took it for granted for a few minutes there,” Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell said. “But we kept our composure and came back with a good performance.”
The Gators (8-4), down 16-6 at halftime, got right back in the thick of things on the third play of the second half. Zach Ronquillo’s 42-yard catch and run set up Jake Arceneaux’s 3-yard touchdown run to trim the Kittens’ lead to four.
But Southern Lab had the counterpunch ready. Running back Darbbeon Profit had more than 150 rushing yards in the first half, and Mitchell was going to make sure he rode the hot hand in the second half.
“We told our offensive line it was going to come down to them at the end of the day,” Mitchell said. “Coming out of halftime I told the guys, ‘We’re going to put it on your shoulders and hand the ball to Profit.’ They did a good job; I’m proud of them.”
The Gators couldn’t match the Kittens’ size up front. Profit carried the ball five times for 29 yards on that drive, finally punching it in from 9 yards out to answer the Gators’ touchdown.
That was the beginning of the end for the Gators, who were outscored 28-7 after their quick touchdown to start the third quarter.
“They kind of got to what they probably needed to do,” said AES coach Michael Desormeaux. “They got behind their big guys up front and ran at us. Size wise, we were definitely at a big disadvantage, and they’ve got a pretty good back that, when he gets going, is hard to bring down.”
Profit ran wild against the Gators defense, ripping off 27 carries for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Profit’s best carry of the game may have been his last one.
Southern Lab stuffed the Gators on a fourth-and-goal attempt, taking over at their own 3-yard line. Predictably enough, they turned to their junior running back.
After two big runs, Profit put an exclamation point on his fine performance with a 58-yard touchdown run on the third play of the fourth quarter, giving Southern Lab a 38-12 lead and effectively eliminating hope of a Gators comeback.
With Linzer out of the contest, the Gators turned to Arceneaux to move the chains. The junior quarterback, often in the face of heavy pressure, completed 18 of 35 passes for 204 yards and a score. Receiver Brennan Ducote was his main target, catching eight balls for 84 yards and a touchdown.