Three third-quarter touchdowns were truly game changers, helping Episcopal run away with a 40-20 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in a nondistrict game between two Class 2A schools Friday night at EHS.
St. Thomas Aquinas (0-2) scored on Earl Jackson’s 74-yard run just before halftime to take a 13-12 lead. In the third quarter, Episcopal responded with Thomas D’Armond’s 83-yard touchdown run and Oliver Jack’s 23-yard interception return for a touchdown to seize control.
D’Armond caught a 7-yard TD pass later in the quarter, and Episcopal (2-0) led 33-13 entering the fourth quarter.
“After the way we lost momentum on basically the last play of the first half we challenged our kids at halftime,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “We needed to come out and set the tone, especially on defense, and the kids responded really well.”
Prior to the game, injuries had sidelined two running backs for Episcopal. Kolin Bilbrew got the start for the Knights, and ran for 151 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Jack went both ways, and had nine carries for 85 yards and a TD.
“(Bilbrew) stepped up in a big way playing both sides,” Bourgeois said. “We needed that because the other team doesn’t feel sorry for you if there are injuries. There are no excuses out there.”
St. Thomas Aquinas gave Episcopal trouble at times by shifting running back Earl Jackson into the quarterback slot in the wildcat formation. Jackson had 113 yards rushing and a touchdown, and also completed 3 of 5 passes for 47 yards.
One of the incompletions bounced off the chest of receiver Michael Johnson and into the hands of Jack, whose 23-yard TD return came 19 seconds after D’Armond’s 83-yard run.
“We came out with a competitive spirit and made some big plays in the first half. We’ve got to learn how to finish,” STA coach Randall Legette said. “The pick six was big, and just turned things around completely.”
After taking the opening kickoff, Episcopal drove 80 yards in 10 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Bilbrew carried six times for 72 yards including a 5-yard run to cap the series.
The extra point try was blocked, the first of two for STA in the half, and Episcopal led 6-0.
St. Tomas Aquinas scored early in the second quarter to take a 7-6 lead. Drew Milton’s 24-yard completion to Devon Wilson on fourth-and-1 set the Falcons up at the EHS 2. One play later Milton scored on a sneak.
Episcopal got a 51-yard return by Bilbrew on the kickoff, and went back ahead on Jack’s 44-yard touchdown run.
St. Thomas Aquinas took its last lead with less than a minute to go in the half. Out of a wildcat formation, Jackson went to his right, reversed field and raced 74 yards down the left sideline for the score.
Episcopal finished the half with 165 yards and nine first downs while St. Thomas Aquinas had 187 yards and eight firsts.