DUTCHTOWN — Over the course of a tense, dramatic District 5-5A game, Catholic High seemingly did just enough to keep Dutchtown at arm’s length.
Then junior linebacker Brandon Fairbanks took it to another extreme.
With Dutchtown place-kicker Justin Reid lined up for a game-tying 50-yard field goal, Fairbanks got just enough of his right hand to deflect the attempt on the game’s final play and allowed No. 5 Catholic to survive with a 20-17 victory Friday at Griffin Field.
“I got a little crease and shot through,” said Fairbanks, a junior linebacker. “I fell at first, but got off my knee and gave a little extra push. I didn’t get much of it but just enough to get it.”
Catholic’s sideline erupted at the sight of Reid’s kick falling well short of its intended target, enabling the Bears (6-1, 2-0) to repel a determined effort from Dutchtown (3-4, 1-1), which accounted for the final score with 9:51 to play.
“I’m just so proud of our team,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “This was a typical District 5-5A football game. I expect games like that. There’s some great teams, players and coaches in this district and you’ve got to come ready to play.”
Catholic’s defense repeatedly delivered in the clutch, twice turning Dutchtown away on fourth-and-inches to stifle two drives, while defensive back John Connolly intercepted Brandt Fritsche on fourth-and-11 with 2:20 to play.
Dutchtown, which has lost to No. 1 Archbishop Rummel, No. 2 Destrehan and No. 5 Catholic, got the ball back with 38 seconds to play and no timeouts.
Fritsche completed five straight passes and drove the Griffins (3-4, 1-1) 56 yards in 24 seconds, setting up Reid from the right hash. Following a Catholic timeout, Fairbanks knifed through to end the game in regulation.
“We had our chances,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said. “If we make a couple of more plays, who knows? I couldn’t ask for any more out of our team and our coaching staff. We’re very close to being a very good team.”
LSU commitment Derrius Guice topped CHS’ efforts with 23 carries for 162 yards, including a 30-yard scoring run right before halftime out of Wildcat formation.
Brian completed 15 of 22 passes for 100 yards with Landon Flowers catching three catches for 55 yards.
Dutchtown, which opted for a wing-T offense over its traditional spread system, rolled up 369 yards of offense in 68 plays.
Fritsche completed 12 of 18 passes for 143 yards and a TD — a 41-yarder to Cornelius Washington, who led the team with eight catches for 120 yards.
Fitell Bolding rushed 17 times for 90 yards and it was his 1-yard run with 9:51 remaining, coupled with a two-point pass from Jared Sparks, that drew the Griffins to within three points.
Catholic increased its 13-6 halftime lead to 20-9 with 2:36 left in the third quarter on Brian’s 9-yard touchdown to Guice on a wheel route of the backfield to cap a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
The teams were tied at 6-all midway through the second quarter after Brian scored on a 1-yard first-quarter run, only to have Fritsche respond a possession later with a 41-yard TD to Washington with CHS’s Trevell Johnson blocking the extra point.
“It was just a great high school football game,” Weiner said. “If you want to go see good high school football, come to District 5-5A.”