MAURICE — Episcopal’s off to a roaring start as Game 1 of the Richard Prejean era at North Vermilion ended with the visiting Knights prevailing 28-20 on Friday night.

The game was a tough and physical contest that saw the amount of total offense nearly equal, with Episcopal gaining 252 yards of offense compared to North Vermilion’s 229.

The Patriots stumbled out of the gate with a fumble on their first drive of the game, which resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Knights quarterback William D’Armond.

Episcopal shocked the Patriots on the kickoff by using the squib-kick tactic that worked to perfection as the Knights got the ball on the Patriots 36-yard line.

It did not take long for the Knights to capitalize. One play later, D’Armond connected with receiver Spencer Kleinpeter for the score. D’Armond finished 6-of-15 for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

On the ensuing drive for North Vermilion, it responded with an efficient effort, resulting in a 36-yard field goal by Seth Patin.

The Knights offense drove the ball downfield on the next drive and scored on a 26-yard touchdown scamper by T.J. Wisham, ballooning the deficit to 18 points for the Patriots at 21-3 with 59 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

North Vermilion responded with 10 unanswered points before halftime with a 22-yard field goal by Patin and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ty Desormeaux to Patin to cut the halftime deficit to 21-13.

“We made too many mistakes early on,” Prejean said. “We shot ourselves in the foot turning the ball over early. We just have to make better decisions.”

The Knights added to their lead with 1:09 left in the third quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run by Wisham. Wisham finished with a game-high 135 rushing yards. The drive was fueled by an interception by Rashaad Jenkins at the Patriots 5-yard line.

North Vermilion responded with an eight-play 88-yard drive, capped by a 50-yard touchdown run by Jordan Windham. Windham finished the night with 117 yards on only eight attempts.

With the score tight at 28-20, the Patriots relied on their defense to get a stop and successfully force a punt. With a fourth-and-4 situation facing North Vermilion, an incomplete pass by Desormeaux gave the ball back to the Knights and essentially ended Prejean’s hopes of earning his first win in his first game as a coach.

“We have to correct a lot of mistakes,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes tonight — offensively, defensively, special teams.”