METAIRIE — Country Day discovered Friday “a punch in the mouth” can vanquish an albatross.
Losers in their past eight chances against Episcopal of Baton Rouge, the 3-0 Cajuns stunned the Knights 53-14 at Wenzel Field.
“Country Day came out and (figuratively) gave us a punch in the mouth, and we were never able to respond,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “They beat us in all three phases of the game.”
In addition to successfully containing Episcopal’s star running back, T.J. Wisham, for all but two long gains, the Cajuns defense intercepted four Episcopal passes. Two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns and two others led directly to scores.
“This is the hardest we’ve worked this whole year,” Country Day’s Jase Griffin said. “We really wanted to beat this team.”
It was Country Day’s first win against Episcopal (2-1), with each loss coming in the third game of the Cajuns’ season. The Cajuns have now scored 150 points in three games this season.
Griffin scored four touchdowns including one on a 35-yard interception return in the third quarter.
The game’s first score was an indicator of what was to come. An interception near midfield by the Cajuns’ Trey Harrell was returned to the Knights’ 21-yard line and set-up a 7-0 lead.
Wisham, who gained 163 yards, scored on runs of 47 and 53 yards but was held to 63 yards on his other 21 carries. His first sprint tied the game at 7, his second at 14.
But, two key interceptions swung the momentum decidedly in Country Day’s direction.
After Country Day took a 22-14 lead early in the second quarter, Chandler Wynne grabbed a screen pass that had been tipped by another defender near the Episcopal 35 and raced in for a score.
On the Knights’ next possession, Jack White tipped a pass that Griffin grabbed and ran it to the Episcopal 15. Griffin scored from there, making it 36-14 at halftime.
“Our defense has been opportunistic all season,” Cajuns coach Joe Chango said. “(Defensive coach) Bill (Barwa) did a magnificent job getting them ready for (Friday).”
After recently losing his starting quarterback with a broken collarbone, Bourgeois said, “It’s not about the quarterbacks. Anytime we play Country Day, it’s always won by what’s up front.”
Griffin also ran for 146 yards on 12 carries. In three games, he has rushed for 471 yards, is averaging 9.4 yards per carry and has scored nine touchdowns by run, reception and interception.
A 39-yard pass from Christian Kerut to Wynne put the Cajuns in position for a 38-yard field goal by Charlie Livaudais at the beginning of the third quarter.
Kerut passed only 11 times, but his seven completions produced 201 yards including an 11-yard touchdowns pass to Harrell.
“A lot of us practice and play both ways,” Griffin said. “Coach has us in shape.”
“For (our) program it’s a great step forward,” Chango said. “For us to play at a 2A level and to play like this against a really good football team and do what we just did is an awesome job by our kids.”