Catholic comes up big early and late to down Karr in quarterfinal clash

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BATON ROUGE – Some may call it an upset despite the seeding and the fact Catholic of Baton Rouge is a defending state champion that is expected to win big LHSAA postseason football games.

Regardless of the viewpoint, it was an impressive performance Friday night.

The No. 2 seed and defending state champion Bears held off the No. 7 Edna Karr Cougars, 32-24, in the Division I Select playoffs at Memorial Stadium.

Karr scored 18 consecutive points to take an 18-17 lead in the final quarter and forced Catholic to go three-and-out. That’s when Bears senior linebacker Bennett Castro flipped the momentum, recovering a Karr fumble at the Bears 47-yard-line with 8:50 remaining.

Catholic (11-1) marched eight plays after the crucial turnover, recapturing the lead on 14-yard run from sophomore back Ryland Parker at the 5:02 mark.

Parker led the Bears with 99 yards on 25 carries.

Quarterback Daniel Beale ran in the ensuing two-point try, giving Catholic a 25-18 lead.

“That was the game-changing points,” Catholic coach David Simoneaux said. “At that point it was do or die. We found away to get home and force the fumble.”

On the next Cougars drive, junior defensive back Colin Coates came up with a huge fourth down sack of Karr Quarterback AJ Samuel to set his team up on the Cougars 12-yard-line. Beale scored three plays later from two yards out to essentially seal the deal, putting the Bears ahead 32-18 with 3:24 to play.

Makhi Paris grabbed a late touchdown from Samuel in the waning seconds but Karr was unsuccessful on the following onside kick.

“It was a tough ball game, came down to execution in the red area,” said Karr coach Brice Brown. “They punched it in and made kicks. hats off to Catholic. They played a great game. Still proud of our guys.”

Catholic jumped out 17-0 advantage in the first half, scoring on their first three possessions. An 80- yard drive on eight plays for the initial score ended with a 53-yard touchdown grab from LSU commit Shelton Sampson from Beale.

Catholic needed just three plays to go 66 yards to double their lead as Beale hooked up with Bradley Wright from nine yards out to make it to 14-0 with 1:05 to play in the first quarter.

Landon Carter added a 47-yard field goal on the Bears third drive, increasing the advantage to 17-0.

Christopher Vasquez recorded his first of a pair of scores on a 4-yard run, capping off an 8-play, 68- yard drive to the put the Cougars on the board before the half as it was 17-6 at the break.

“At halftime we knew what type of fight we’d see from those guys, the way that those guys play together with the pride and intensity, the passion they have for each other is what separates Karr football from the pack,” said Simmoneaux.

Karr ended the third quarter with another eight-play march spanning 80 yards. Vasquez collected his second touchdown from 6-yards out, reducing the Bears lead to 17-12.

Early in the fourth quarter, Michael Richard came up with a big interception of Beale to set up Karr on the Catholic 36-yard-line. The Cougars would take advantage as leading rusher Deantre Jackson, who finished with 130 yards on the ground, raced 22 yards to paydirt to give Karr it’s first and only lead of the night, 18-17, setting the stage for the huge close by the Bears.

Catholic had the answers needed late to advance to the semifinal round where they’ll host No. 3 seed John Curtis in another clash of Louisiana football titans next Friday night.

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