The late arriving crowd to Memorial Stadium didn’t miss much in the first 12 minutes when Catholic High faced off against St. Amant in the District 5-5A opener for both teams.
Catholic’s Jack Gonsoulin kicked a 22-yard field goal for the only points of the first quarter.
Then Catholic High running back Derrius Guice exploded for a career night, both teams put up some crazy offensive numbers, and the Bears ran away from the Gators 44-21.
“I’m not surprised it was as competitive as it was,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for them. Thank goodness for that second quarter. That’s what won the ball game for us.”
Guice exploded in the second quarter for four touchdowns and racked up over 300 yards of total offense. He opened the game with only two yards on his first four carries, and his only notable plays of the first quarter were a 59-yard punt return and a 16-yard screen pass reception.
“It was our defense that kept us in the game the first quarter,” Weiner said. “They kept giving us the ball in good field position, and we couldn’t do anything with it.”
The second quarter was a different story. After St. Amant punter Jordan LeBourgeois pinned Catholic back on their own two, the Bears marched 98 yards for a touchdown with Guice scoring on a 5-yard run.
St. Amant (3-3, 0-1 in district)countered with a 28-yard strike from Tyler Dixon to sophomore receiver Briggs Bourgeois, who caught the ball between two defenders, pulled away from a tackler and sprinted to the end zone.
Bourgeois then kicked the extra point to pull the Gators within 10-7 and drove the kickoff into the end zone.
Over the next nine minutes Catholic (5-1, 1-0) scored on runs of 80, 75 and 25 yards by Guice and an 18-yard pass from Ian Brian to Nicholas Deranger that followed the first of three Catholic High interceptions.
Guice used his power to break free at the line of scrimmage and his speed to outrun defenders on his longer runs. On the 25-yard score he was bottled up on a sweep around the left side, but stopped in his tracks, broke to the middle of the field and ran untouched into the end zone.
“He’s a great player and he’s got great players around him,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “Catholic was supposed to be the team to beat (in district) and they played like it tonight.
“We were lining up to kick a field goal and we missed it and he goes 80 yards. Things just kind of snowballed from there,” he said, “but I’m proud my kids played hard and never stopped fighting.”
Dixon led a scoring drive at the end of the half, getting a touchdown on a 3-yard run.
Catholic running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire broke a 74-yard scoring run on the second play of the second half, and Dixon wrapped up the scoring with a 3-yard run. The rest of the half was essentially mop-up time, with Guice catching only two short passes and Edwards-Helaire taking over the running duties for the Bears.
Guice ended his rushing night at halftime with 229 yards on 14 carries. Edwards-Helaire finished with 121 yards on 14 carries.
Dixon finished with 112 yards on 16 carries. Richard Williams had the Gators’ longest run of the night with a 54-yard carry.
Bourgeois had eight catches for 170 yards and a touchdown.