OPELOUSAS — In less than a minute, Opelousas Catholic turned a deficit into dominance.
The Vikings recovered a St. Edmund muffed punt and a fumble and converted both into quick touchdowns as OCHS defeated the Blue Jays 46-32 at Donald Gardner Stadium.
OCHS (4-0) led 20-18 at halftime and then fell behind after St. Edmund recovered the second-half kickoff and went a quick 37 yards to take a 26-20 lead with 10:08 left in the third quarter. Then the Vikings began to take control.
OCHS’ David Allen recovered the misplayed punt at the Blue Jays’ 22, and seven plays later the Vikings punched it in on a keeper by quarterback David Labbe at the 5:32 mark.
The Vikings were set up again 12 seconds later when an OCHS defensive back Nick Mouret recovered a lateral pass by SEHS quarterback Drew Brown at the Jays’ 3.
OCHS scored in two plays after Labbe threw at 3-yard scoring pass to running back Caleb Vidrine who bolted into the clear out of the backfield with 4:34 to go in the quarter. Aaron Whipp’s point after kick put the Vikings ahead 34-26.
OCHS coach Dane Charpentier said the Mouret fumble recovery created momentum that was took much for St. Edmund (1-3) to overcome.
“I thought the fumble was more important at that time of the game,” Charpentier said. “It was still a competitive game at that point, but the (fumble) and then the touchdown allowed us to go up by eight points and we were then able to hold position.
“I thought that was huge.”
Brown, who entered the game with 735 passing yards, finished with 319 after completing 25-of-47 throws.
Five of Brown’s throws went for touchdowns, including two to wide receiver Drake Brunet.
OCHS rushed for 161 yards. Vidrine rushed for 63 on 13 attempts, while Labbe gained 65 on 16 attempts.
St. Edmund coach Thomas David agreed with Charpentier that the game turned early in the third quarter.
“I thought we did a lot of good things early, but when you lose a punt and have them recover the ball at your 3, it’s going to be hard not to give up any points,” David said.
The lead changed hands five times before the two quick OCHS touchdowns in the third quarter.
Brown threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alex Hunt to end the game’s first drive before OCHS took a 7-6 lead with 6:30 left in the initial quarter.
On that drive the Vikings’ Jacobi Richard maneuvered behind the Jays’ secondary and caught a 26-yard pass from Labbe. A Whipp extra point put the Vikings in front 7-6.
The teams traded touchdowns for the rest of the first half.
St. Edmund grabbed an 18-13 lead with 6:31 left in the second on a 3-yard pass from Brown to running back Zach Lafleur.
OCHS led 20-18 at halftime after Labbe drove the Vikings 75 yards in seven plays. Labbe scored on a 6-yard run with 1:05 left.