YOUNGSVILLE — Down 39-32 to Vermilion Catholic with less a minute to play, Ascension Episcopal coach Michael Desormeaux said he told his team if they scored, they “ain’t here to play overtime.”

“I told our kids right after we got the ball down seven (points) that we came here to win,” Desormeaux said. “It didn’t take much hesitation. We were going for it no matter what.”

AES quarterback Jake Arceneaux tossed a 24-yard touchdown to Zach Ronquillo with 30 seconds remaining in the game to get within one at 39-38. Arceneaux said he knew it was time to go for it and said he just had to bear down.

“My coaches had faith in me to take over that game,” Arceneaux said. “I had to push it through.”

On the two-point conversion try, Arceneaux was stuffed at the goal line but did not go down. On his second effort, he found a crease and punched it over the goal line to give AES the 40-39 win.

“Both teams played exactly like I thought they would,” Desormeaux said. “You have both groups that refuse to lose and it made for one of the best football games I have ever been a part of.”

AES opened the game with 12 unanswered points in the first quarter, followed by 31 unanswered VC points.

Desormeaux said the second half, where the Gators fired back with 20 unanswered points, was the clear turning point of the game.

“We told them it would swing back our way,” Desormeaux said. “We knew we just had to make a couple plays and get the momentum back. Once we got the momentum, we needed to run with it.”

Arceneaux was 18-for-28 for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran seven times for 45 yards and a touchdown and came up with a key interception on defense. Desormeaux said it’s clear what No. 18 (Arceneaux) means to the team.

“He is the heart and soul of this team,” Desormeaux said. “He played defense, he made throws, he made runs. This is a quarterback-driven offense and if you have no quarterback it goes nowhere. Right now, Jake is driving it.”

Arceneaux did have one critical mistake, a fumble with 1:31 to play that nearly sealed the Gators’ fate. Vermilion Catholic quarterback Hunter Frith gave it back to Ascension Episcopal on his third interception of the night, which led to the game-winning drive.

“We were down on the sideline when the fumble happened,” Arceneaux said. “We all just kept our heads up and kept praying and it worked out for us. We have been trying to beat (VC) since I’ve been here. We want to become that 1A powerhouse and takeover their spot. We want to be on top.”

Desormeaux said he doesn’t want to make any predictions about where AES will finish, but he said he knows his team can be special.

“I don’t know if anyone can work harder than this group that we have,” Desormeaux said. “When you work that hard, it’s hard to lose. We aren’t good enough where it’s going to happen automatically, but we take pride in how hard we work. We can be good enough to play on the last game on the last day.”