Country Day’s Trey Harrell returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and both teams gained big yardage on the ground.
But in the end, it was two Ds — depth and defense — that carried Episcopal to a 20-10 win over Metairie Park Country Day at Episcopal’s Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Episcopal’s T.J. Wisham carried 22 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and Country Day’s Jase Griffin had 118 yards on 14 carries. David Wade added 86 yards on six carries for the Knights, including a 44-yard burst on Episcopal’s final drive. Episcopal finished with 298 rushing yards to 184 for the Cajuns.
“It was a very physical game,” Griffin said. “Their running backs are big and fast and know how to hit the holes. ... A lot of people went both ways, and we just got tired at the end.”
Griffin was one of the two-way players for the Cajuns; he, Andre Nguyen and Will Nalty were their defensive leaders.
A late-afternoon shower just before the game didn’t dampen Harrell’s spirits. As soon as the fans had dried off their seats and settled in, the junior receiver broke through a wide hole on the left side of the Episcopal kickoff coverage and easily outran the Knights 93 yards to the end zone.
The Knights (3-0) answered with a couple of good gains but hurt themselves with a holding penalty and had to punt.
Country Day (2-1) mounted a drive of 66 yards, all on the ground, on its only possession of the first quarter, leading to a 22-yard field goal by Price Petagna that staked the Cajuns to a 10-0 lead after one quarter.
“That’s a good football team over there,” Country Day coach Richard Wood said. “We came out and delivered. We just couldn’t take care of their two running backs, and there’s no question we wore down in the fourth quarter, but we kept coming back and coming back.”
A 13-yard punt set Episcopal up in good field position on the Country Day 40 early in the second. The Knights turned to the tandem of Wade and Wisham to grind out yardage on the ground, and Wisham scored on a 5-yard run.
Country Day threatened twice more in the half but couldn’t capitalize, and Episcopal’s David Tatman intercepted Morgan Farrell’s pass at the goal line on the final play before halftime.
“They kept our offense off the field in the first half,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “They came in with a good game plan, and that’s a credit to coach Wood and his staff. We tried to settle into our routine and get real physical, and that helped us in the fourth quarter.”
Wisham and Griffin continued to carry their teams in the third quarter. Each had a 31-yard run that went for naught as Episcopal lost a fumble at the Country Day 25 and the Cajuns came up short on fourth-and-goal from the Knights’ 3.
Caden Dickinson and Daniel Rieger led the charge that sacked Harrell on the big fourth-down play. Episcopal followed with a 16-play, 90-yard drive and another Wisham touchdown, this one on a 2-yard run.
The Knights defense later made two big stops on the Cajuns’ last drive, with Kydris Washington and Dickinson sacking Harrell, and Washington running down Adam Roach for a 12-yard loss.
“We were just having fun,” Washington said. “When our defense starts doing that, good things happen.”
Episcopal’s Spencer Kleinpeter scored the night’s final touchdown on a 30-yard pass from William D’Armond.