The scoreboard clock did not work, and it was appropriate.
Two Class 1A/Division IV titans, third-ranked Southern Lab and No. 8 Ascension Catholic, were locked in a game that seemed to transcend time.
The Bulldogs orchestrated a halftime lead with running back Jai Williams playing the leading role. Southern Lab’s Jabar Triplett and Tyrion Davis flipped the script in the second half as Southern Lab gutted out a 22-19 victory in the District 6-1A game played Friday night at Southern University’s A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Triplett blocked a punt that led to one score and recovered a fumble at the SLHS 1 that prevented what looked like a sure Ascension Catholic score.
“They came out and hit us hard and pushed us … they’re a very good team,” Triplett said. “I knew I had to make plays for my team. That was a my first block, and we needed it.”
Davis, an LSU commitment, finished with 168 yards on 24 carries and scored two of his three touchdowns in the second half.
That offset the dynamic effort of Williams, who ran for 321 yards on 35 carries and scored all three of the Bulldogs’ TDs. Williams had 333 of ACHS’ 399 yards.
“What a game,” ACHS coach Drey Trosclair said. “We came in here believing we were one of the best teams in Division IV, and we knew they were the other one. They (ACHS players) did play their hearts out. We also knew the margin for error was small. We lost two chances to score, one in the first half when they muffed a punt and the other on a fumble at their 1. Hats off to them for making the plays they did.”
The game featured 16 penalties for 125 yards. The Kittens’ other LSU commitment, offensive lineman Kardell Thomas, was ejected on a play as the emotions escalated.
“You should be interviewing my offensive line, not me,” SLHS’ Davis said. “They made all this possible. Man … what a game. I love games that are competitive. Jai is a great back. He put his team on his back, just like I tried to put my team on mine.”
Maurice Blanchard intercepted an ACHS pass to end the Bulldogs’ first possession. The Kittens took over at the ACHS 36 and used the hard-nosed running of Davis score quickly.
Davis opened the drive with runs of 12 and 14 yards. He scored on a 3-yard run that gave Southern Lab a 6-0 lead. It was the only serious threat of the half by the SLHS offense.
Williams, who ran for 195 yards on 21 first-half carries and scored both TDs for the Bulldogs. The junior running back made two Southern Lab defenders miss with 360-degree spin and rambled 24 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 6-6 in the second period.
Williams ran right at the Southern Lab defense most of the way. But the Bulldogs kept the Kittens off-balance with option pitches and counter plays. Williams’ 65-yard scoring run upped the ACHS lead to 12-6 by halftime.
The Kittens took the second-half kickoff and scored two plays later on a 52-yard run by Davis and took a 14-12 lead quarterback Travon Myles’ 2-point conversion run.
Triplett’s punt block put SLHS back at the ACHS 18, which led to a 4-yard TD run by Davis. The Kittens led 22-12 and dodged a bullet when ACHS’ seven-play drive ended with Triplett recovering a fumble at just outside the Kittens’ 1. ACHS scored again on Williams’ 7-yard run in the fourth quarter but got no closer.
“A good game with two good teams,” SLHS coach Darrell Asberry said. “We both played hard. Yes, we may see them again.”