It was deja vu all over again at Tad Gormley on Friday night. With a twist.
After losing in the quarterfinals to Brother Martin last year because of a failed two-point conversion, No. 6 Catholic-Baton Rouge stopped the Crusaders on a two-point play with 16 seconds left to avenge that loss with a 49-48 win to advance to the Division I select semifinals.
The Bears (8-3) will play at No. 2 Evangel, which defeated No. 7 Holy Cross 42-7 on Friday night.
“I tell you what, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart know how to produce wild football games,” joked Catholic coach Dale Weiner.
Both offenses went back and forth in a wild game that had over 1,200 yards of offense.
Catholic lost star running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who accounted for 171 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the first half, early in the third quarter because of an injury, but they were able to turn to quarterback Ian Brian and backup running back James Berrigan to pick up the slack.
Berrigan scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 1-yard run with 2:20 left to put the Bears up 49-42.
Brother Martin would not be denied at the end, though, hitting on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jake Broggi to tight end Irv Smith with 16 seconds left to make the score 49-48. The No. 3 Crusaders (8-3) decided to hand it off to running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling in attempt to go for the win, but he was stopped short of the goal line.
“Me and Clyde have a great relationship,” said Berrigan, who finished with 94 total yards and two touchdowns. “He talked me up, got me ready, and it was a great team win.”
Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said he made the decision to go for the two-point conversion at the end and to hand the ball off to Jordan-Swilling at the end, but his team just didn’t have enough to finish off the win.
Broggi finished 27 of 37 for 503 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan-Swilling had 28 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought our offense played well all year, and I wanted to put it away right there,” said Bonis. “I don’t regret the call. We came out here to win a football game.”
Both teams went back and forth in an incredibly competitive first half that had a combined 56 points, 829 yards of offense and eight of the game’s first nine possessions ended in a touchdown.
The last of those touchdowns came on a 40-yard slant pass from Broggi to Singleton, their third scoring combination of the half, to tie the game at 28-28 with 2:36 left in the first half.
The Crusaders defense forced a turnover on downs on the ensuing possession and tried to squeeze in one more score before the buzzer, but Blake Perrilloux’s 41-yard field goal was blocked as time expired, sending the game into halftime tied at 28-28.