VC uses big 2nd half to defeat Eagles
Central Catholic’s Eriq Blanchard follows the block of Garret LeBlanc (No. 19), and Tyler Hoffpauir (No. 10) during Friday’s Division 4 regional round contest. Central Catholic fell to Vermilion Catholic 34-0. (The Daily Review/Valerie LeBlanc)
With a game before them that featured offenses with big-play potential, both Central Catholic and Vermilion Catholic fans got little of each in the first half of Friday’s contest as both teams threatened, but sputtered to halftime in a scoreless, defensive battle.
In the second half, though, Vermilion Catholic got things going, outscoring District 7-1A rival Central Catholic 28-0 en route to a 34-0 victory in Division 4 regional round action.
Vermilion Catholic scored on its first four possessions, all through the air, as the Screaming Eagles jumped out to a 28-0 advantage.
Following a 56-yard kickoff return by Mike Campbell to begin the third quarter, Vermilion Catholic needed just three plays to score as quarterback Brennan Gallet connected with Campbell on a short pass and the standout running back followed his blockers for a 33-yard touchdown reception and a 7-0 advantage just 58 seconds into the second half.
Central Catholic coach David Fuhrer called the game a “tale of two halves.”
“The first half, I think we had some opportunities to score,” he said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. The second half, we came out, I thought it was a pretty good kickoff. … Matthew (Barbier) kicked it deep, and we went down and covered. They hit a seam and I think that gave them a little momentum and after they scored, they just seemed to have got the momentum and … things just kind of snowballed. It just seemed like we couldn’t do nothing right. It just kind of went from there.”
After Vermilion Catholic’s first score, its defense recovered a fumble by Central Catholic quarterback Nick Case and returned it to the Central Catholic 25 yard line.
Vermilion Catholic needed just four more plays to reach the end zone as Gallet connected with Conner Menard on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 8:46 remaining in the third quarter.
The Screaming Eagles, after forcing a Central Catholic three-and-out, quickly moved down the field for its next score.
After Central Catholic was penalized 15 yards for pass interference, Campbell broke a 20-yard run on the next play down to the Central Catholic 24.
On the next play, Gallet again hit Menard, this time on a 24-yard pass, for a 21-0 Vermilion Catholic advantage.
Vermilion Catholic added another third-quarter score when Gallet connected with Emile Trahan on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter, while the duo connected again with 2:01 remaining in the ball game, when Gallet found his receiver for a 20-yard score.
Vermilion Catholic finished the contest with 333 total yards (156 rushing and 177 passing).
Gallet completed 11 of 26 passes for 177 yards with five scores.
Menard led the Screaming Eagles’ receivers with five catches for 71 yards and two scores, while Trahan caught two passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
While Central Catholic managed to move the ball into Vermilion Catholic territory in the second half, the Eagles offense failed to finish, continuing a trend that had plagued Central Catholic earlier this year as well as in the first half of Friday’s contest.
The Eagles had plenty of chances to score in the first half in Friday’s contest. The Eagles moved the ball into Vermilion Catholic territory during their first three drives, but failed to score as a penalty and a sack of Central Catholic quarterback Case thwarted the first drive. Case was intercepted by Menard on the second drive, and a 48-yard run by Tyler Hoffpauir on the third drive down to the Vermilion Catholic 2-yard line was moved back to the 15-yard line because of an offensive facemask penalty on Hoffpauir. After the Eagles’ drive stalled, Barbier’s 31-yard field goal attempt was no good.
Things weren’t any better for Vermilion Catholic’s high-powered offense as they had the ball little in the first quarter after the Central Catholic defense stopped them after one first down on their first drive, while a Central Catholic’s second drive was continued after Vermilion Catholic was penalized for roughing the kicker after they knocked down Barbier after he booted away a punt.
On their lone drive into Central Catholic territory, Trahan missed a field goal from 25 yards for Vermilion Catholic with 54.1 seconds remaining, keeping the game scoreless.
Central Catholic finished the game with just 169 total yards, while Case, who was hobbled at time with injuries, was sacked three times.
He completed 5 of 13 passes for just 37 yards and was intercepted once.
Eriq Blanchard led the Eagles with 16 carries for 59 yards, while Hoffpauir had two carries for 51 yards.
Vermilion Catholic will continue postseason play Friday when it hosts St. Mary, while Central Catholic finishes its season with a 5-7 mark.
“Congratulations (to) them and good luck to them,” Fuhrer said of Vermilion Catholic. “I’m proud of our seniors. They played their butts off. We had a lot of young kids step up and play this year. I think we’re right there. We just have to be able to finish the deal.”