Catholic keeps poise, rallies past Rummel in Division I quarterfinals

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BATON ROUGE – A pair of class programs dealing with key injuries convened once again, a year after meeting in a memorable state championship contest.

With the running game playing a prominent role on both sides, fourth-seeded Catholic had one more play than fifth-seeded Rummel.

Youth was served as freshman quarterback Daniel Beale hit sophomore Daniel Harden on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 4:51 to play in the game to cap a comeback as the Bears rallied past the Raiders 42-35 at Memorial Stadium in a game heard live on 106.1 FM.

The winning score was the first lead of the game for Catholic.

Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said the win was not all about revenge for losing 14-10 in last year’s state title game to the Raiders.

“We told the kids all week that it really wasn’t about revenge or redemption or any of those things,” Fertitta said. “This game was about us and we needed to do the things that we do, play the brand of football that we play and not be so focused on whether it’s revenge or getting them back for last year. That was nothing we ever talked about.”

With starting quarterback Landon O’ Connor out with a sprained ankle, Beale split time at quarterback with senior running back George Hart taking snaps in the Wildcat formation.

Hart was superb, rushing 14 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns as Catholic gashed a banged up Rummel defensive front for 344 yards rushing. Corey Singleton added 10 carries for 121 yards and a score.

The Raiders, who lost defensive Marlon Baker before the season started, lost Kendrell Tumblin weeks ago to an ankle injury. Then, at practice earlier this week, the Raiders lost star defensive end Caboz Craig with a broken leg before standout linebacker Randy Martin went down with an injured shoulder in the second half. He would not return and the Bears exposed the depleted Rummel defensive front with outstanding blocking and excellent running.

“Starting three weeks ago, we started working George Hart at quarterback and he picked it up really fast and picked it up well,” Fertitta said. “I’ve got to give a shout out to the guys up front. They did a phenomenal job in paving the way for all of our backs doing what they did. What a talent Logan Diggs is. People are not sleeping on George Hart, either. He is a stud.”

Things could not have started better for Rummel.

The Raiders got a stop on Catholic’s opening possession and Rummel proceeded to go on a 15 play, 85-yard drive, taking 5:40 off the clock with Diggs racing nine yards for a score to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 3:55 to play in the opening quarter.

Catholic got even quickly, going 75 yards in six plays with Hart scoring a two-yard run to tie the game 7-7 with 1:49 to play in the first quarter.

Rummel needed just two plays to recapture the lead, going 80 yards in just 19 seconds as Diggs ran 26 yards and then scored on a 54-yard scamper to give the Raiders a 14-7 lead with 1:30 to play in the first quarter.

After recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Richmond commit Kyle Wickersham connected with Cameron Francioni on a 29-yard touchdown pass to give Rummel a 21-7 lead with 11:43 to play in the first half.

Catholic drew within a score before the half, driving 65 yards in six plays with Tre’ Benson scoring on a six-yard run and it was 21-14 at halftime.

On the opening possession of the third quarter, Wickersham threw high to an open receiver and senior defensive back Michael Cerniauskas intercepted it and returned it to the Raider 10-yard line.

Three plays later, Beale shoveled a pass to Benson scored on a five-yard touchdown pass to even the score 21-21 with 9:57 to play in the third quarter.

Rummel came right back, driving 65 yards in five plays and Wickersham connected with Keith Robertson on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Raiders a 28-21 lead with 8:02 to play in the third quarter.

Catholic once again drew even late in the third quarter as Hart outran the defense 69 yards for a score to make it 28-28 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Rummel once again recaptured the lead, driving 63 yards in six plays with Diggs scoring on a one-yard run and it was 35-28 with 9:41 to play in the game.

Catholic needed just one play to tie it as Corey Singleton ran straight up the middle on a 75-yard touchdown run and it was 35-35 with 9:21 to play in the game.

Then, a pair of penalties on Rummel helped doom the Raiders.

On consecutive runs, Diggs raced for first downs, once for 12 yards and then for 19 yards but both runs were negated by penalties, the first on a holding call and the second on a personal foul called on Diggs who was simply trying to leap over a defender.

The Raiders had to punt and Catholic got a short field, starting at the Rummel 40-yard line, and took total advantage.

The Bears drove 40 yards in five plays with Beale hitting Harden with the game-winning touchdown pass.

Rummel had one more chance, making two first downs and reached the Catholic 40-yard line, but another penalty set the Raiders back, but on fourth-and-eight, Wickersham’s pass fell incomplete and Catholic took over and was able to run out the clock.

Rummel coach Nick Monica, though disappointed, was proud of his team’s effort.

“I thought the effort was fabulous,” Monica said. “We were kind of short-handed, I guess, but our guys fought their butts off and that was a really, really good football team and I was just extremely proud of the way the guys fought. It was a back-and-forth game. You’ve got to give them some credit. They were down two scores early and they just kept grounding it out. It was two really good football teams.

Monica was proud of Diggs. The Notre Dame commit, in his final high school game, rushed 35 times for 257 yards and three touchdowns and caught a pass for nine yards, despite leaving the game injured twice with a leg injury before returning.

“He ran like a man tonight,” Monica said. “We had asked some guys to step up tonight because we knew we needed it, especially the seniors, with some of the guys being out and I thought they did that. I know we had back-to-back first-down runs called back, 20-yard gains. That really put us back and that’s what led to their winning touchdown. We had quite a few called.”

In his final game, Wickersham, who was shaken up and left the game in the first half before returning, completed 7-of-19 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and he rushed five times for 14 yards.

Beale completed 8-of-10 passes for 71 yards and the winning score.

Catholic advances to the semifinals to face unbeaten top-seed Brother Martin in New Orleans. The Crusaders rallied late in the fourth quarter for a thrilling 36-34 win over Jesuit to improve to 8-0.

It will be a battle of the brother schools, both affiliated with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, in a game that both defenses will face stiff challenges against the opponent’s potent offense.

FINAL
Catholic 7 7 14 14 — 42
Rummel 7 14 7 7 — 35

First Downs: Catholic 13, Rummel 23
Penalties: Catholic 5 for 48 yards, Rummel 10 for 91 yards
Turnovers: Catholic 1, Rummel 1
Rushing Yards: Catholic 339, Rummel 301
Passing Yards: Catholic 71, Rummel 111
Total Yards: Catholic 410, Rummel 412

Individual Rushing:
Catholic: George Hart 14 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns, Corey Singleton 10 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown, Tre’ Benson 2 carries for 6 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson Guest 2 carries for 21 yards, Tae Nicholas 3 carries for 12 yards, Prince Edwards 1 carry for seven yards, Matthew Reinholtz, 1 carry for 0 yards, Daniel Beale 3 carries for -5 yards

Rummel: Logan Diggs 35 carries for 257 yards and three touchdowns, Daniel Sabido five carries for 30 yards, Kyle Wickersham 5 carries for 14 yards

Individual Passing:
Catholic: Daniel Beale 8-of-10 for 71 yards and one touchdown
Rummel: Kyle Wickersham 7-of-19 for 11 yards and two touchdowns, one interception

Individual Receiving:
Catholic: Daniel Harden 4 catches for 53 yards and one touchdown, Tre’ Benson 1 catch for 5 yards and one touchdown, Tae Nicholas 1 catch for 10 yards, Prince Edwards 1 catch for 0 yards.

Rummel: Keith Robertson 2 catches for 40 yards and one touchdown, Nicholas Howard 2 catches for 13 yards, Tyronne Hayes 1 catch for 30 yards, Cameron Francioni 1 catch for 29 yards and one touchdown, Logan Diggs 1 catch for 9 yards

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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