GONZALES - In a game of offensive surges and contradictions, it came down to one final defensive play. East Ascension’s Ruben Stephens intercepted a pass with 2:04 remaining to help the Spartans hang on for a 36-29 victory over Catholic High on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
It was the third big play of the night for Stephens, who had another interception and also returned a Bears fumble 36 yards for a score as the Spartans (5-3, 1-2) led 21-0 in the first minute of the District 5-5A game.
“I knew we had to have a turnover,” Stephens said. “I just wanted to be a playmaker for the team. I went up and got it.”
The interception at the EAHS 20 sealed the deal for the Spartans, who snapped a two-game losing streak. East Ascension led 28-0 four minutes into the free-wheeling game in which Catholic outscored the Spartans 22-8 in the final three quarters.
“We were ahead 28-0 early. That gave them time to build momentum,” EAHS coach Paul Bourgeois said. “We made a lot of mistakes that need to be corrected, but we’ll take the win.”
Quarterback Adam Miller completed 7 of 13 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns for EAHS. Jamarcus Jarvis caught TD passes of 77 and 84 yards, while Sione Palelei grabbed what proved to be the 34-yard game-winner with 8:05 left.
Coomes ran for 73 yards on 15 carries and scored one TD to lead Catholic (2-6, 2-1), which saw a two-game winning streak end. He also completed 12 of 26 passes for 149 yards and two TDs. Ken Ward had five catches for 109 yards.
“Being down 21-0 after a minute was tough,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “The turnovers hurt, but these guys never gave up.”
.East Ascension big plays and Catholic miscues led to a 28-0 Spartans lead. On the game’s second scrimmage play, Jarvis took a swing pass from Miller and raced 77 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. The first of Mason Decoteau’s four point-after kicks made it 7-0 with 11:32 to go.
The Bears fumbled the ensuing kick and EAHS’ Ja’lon Watts recovered at the CHS 9. Miller tossed a TD pass to Deandrus Ennis on the next play for a 14-0 lead at the 11:14 mark.
On Catholic’s first scrimmage play, Stephens recovered a fumble as the Bears tried to execute and a hook-and-ladder trick play. He returned it 36 yards for another TD and it was 21-0 with 11:00 to go.
Next. Jarvis broke free, completing an 84-yard scoring play, making it 28-0 with 8:13 left.
Another turnover set up Catholic’s only score of the half. Austin Dedon recovered an EAHS fumble. Coomes had a 17-yard run and scored on a 5-yard run. Guy Hymel’s PAT made it 28-7 with 1:25 to go.
There was no more scoring until late in the third quarter. A punt snap issue gave the Bears a safety with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter. Catholicdrove 48 yards to score after the free kick. Coomes 31-yard pass to Ward set up a 1-yard TD run by Pat Van Duzee with 11:50 left.
The Bears finally got a big play. Coomes tossed a short pass to Ward, who bounced off a Spartans defender and raced 55 yards down the sideline. Hymel’s PAT made it 28-22.
EAHS countered. Paleilei reversed field after catching a Miller pass and scored on a 34-yard play. Ennis’ two-point PAT made it 36-22 at the 8:05 mark.
R.J. Jefferson recovered a Jarvis fumble to set up Catholic’s final score - a 13-yard pass from Coomes to Khalil Thomas at the 4:03 mark. Jefferson also recovered an onside kick. This CHS possession led to Stephens’ interception.