It wasn’t a perfect game in some ways. The teams combined for 195 yards in penalties and four turnovers. Catholic High and University High also squeezed every second of passion they could into 48 minutes.
The final turnover, Connor Stewart’s interception of a Tanner Lawson pass with 36 seconds remaining, gave Catholic a chance to breathe and a 30-25 win over U-High in a nondistrict matchup of ranked teams from different classifications Friday night at UHS’ Gill Field.
U-High got the ball back with 56 seconds left and ran three plays before Stewart’s interception near the Catholic 40-yard-line.
“You could see the physical side and both teams just laying it on the line,” U-High coach Andy Martin said. “I am so proud of them (U-High players) … we really fought hard all game long.
“We had challenges with guys go out here and there and the next guy just stepped up. There are a lot of things we’ll need to correct. But the heart was left out there on the field.”
Josh Parker ran for 104 yards on 18 carries and scored 1 touchdown to lead the third-ranked Bears (3-0) of Class 5A. Jackson Thomas completed 14 of 26 passes for 123 yards and one TD. He also ran for 49 yards and another TD.
“We had a lot of penalties and made some mistakes, but we figured out how to win it. I love this team.”
There were similar sentiments for the Cubs (1-2), who are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A. Lawson also completed 14 of 25 passes and finished with 255 yards and three TDs. Jardin Gilbert had 5 catches for 131 yards and one TD for UHS.
“On offense and defense … we took care of business,” defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy, an LSU commitment, said. “It was a physical game. We didn’t get would we wanted out of it, but we battled to the end. We'll be better.”
Catholic took a 3-0 lead on Kylan Dupre’s 25-yard field goal with 7:14 left in the first quarter. Six plays later, U-High had the lead. Lawson dropped a pass over the Catholic coverage to Gilbert, who raced 56 yards to the end zone.
Lawson’ 34-yard TD pass to Austin Auberry gave U-High a 13-3. But Catholic scored two second-quarter TDs in a 3:47 span to claim the lead. Parker and George Hart pounded away up the middle. Thomas slipped away from Roy to complete a pass to Michael Grizaffi for a first-and-goal at the UHS 5. Thomas scored on a 1-yard run to make it 13-10 at the 3:58 mark.
After a UHS punt, Solomon Singleton hauled in a TD pass from Thomas with 11 seconds remaining. Catholic led 17-13 at halftime.
The physical play continued in the third quarter. The pendulum swung in U-High’s favor when Derrick Graham scored on a 17-yard run with 11:19 remaining, giving the Cubs a 19-17 lead. But again Catholic countered. A 12-yard TD run by Parker and Hart’s halfback TD pass to Sam Etheridge to make it 30-19 with 5:24 remaining.
Lawson’s 28-yard TD pass to Kellin Ross gave the Cubs a chance with 4:24 remaining. Catholic rolled up five first downs, before missing a fourth-and-1 that would have put the game away with 56 seconds to go to give U-High its final chance.
“I just knew we needed to make another play,” Catholic's Stewart said.