Kaufman turns in brilliant performance as Rummel overcomes Catholic for state title
When you allow an unbeaten, top-seeded team to hang around too long, you are going to get burned.
When the best player on the field and possibly in the state impacts the game in all three phases, you are likely going to win.
Catholic did the first part while Donovan Kaufman took care of the rest as Archbishop Rummel downed the Bears 14-10 in the Division I state championship game at Yulman Stadium Friday night.
Kaufman, a Vanderbilt commitment, returned a kickoff 95 yards for the game-winning score with 2:56 to play in the game. Then, Kaufman picked off a Jackson Thomas pass with two seconds left to seal the victory.
As if that were not enough, Kaufman scored the only other touchdown for the Raiders, lining up at quarterback and running nine-yards for a score in a tremendous performance. That came after he forced a fumble and recovered it in the first half as well. Kaufman finished with 11 tackles in one of the best individual performances you will ever see in any game, much less a state championship game.
“It means everything, Kaufman said. “It’s what we worked for. I couldn’t ask for a better team, coaching staff or fan base. I love them all. I just love them. I did what I had to do. Every game, I have to step up. We will never give up. To be honest, that was not real smart for them to kick me the ball. They had not done so in the game. I just wanted to make plays for my team. It feels awesome. We did it.”
Catholic dominated the first half but had just a 3-0 lead by the break as Kylan Dupre connected on a 25-yard field goal with 5:42 to play in the first half but he but missed two others as the Rummel defense stiffened in the red zone. The misses would come back to haunt the Bears.
Catholic took the lead, driving 48 yards in 12 plays, taking 5:05 off the clock with Dupre connecting on a 23-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 5:42 to play in the first half.
The Bears outgained Rummel 179-36 in the half and Catholic had the ball for 20:23 to just 9:37 for the Raiders.
The game remained 3-0 entering the fourth quarter when the Rummel offense, stymied all evening by a stout Bears defense, finally made plays and it was their best players who did so.
Kyle Wickersham connected with LSU commit Koy Moore for 34 yards to the Catholic 24-yard line, Logan Diggs ran six yards to the 18, Catholic was penalized to the 9-yard line and on the next play, Kaufman raced 9 yards for a score to make it 7-3 Rummel with 10:50 to play in the game.
The Bears answered late in the game, driving 86 yards in just three plays with Jackson Thomas hitting Josh Parker on a 43-yard touchdown pass to give Catholic a 10-7 lead with 3:09 to play in the game.
Then, Kaufman came up with the 95-yard kickoff return for a score to give Rummel a 14-10 lead with 2:56 to play.
Catholic got the ball back at its own 26-yard line with 2:49 to play in the game. The Bears drove to the Rummel 36-yard line with 15 seconds left. On the 11th play of the drive, the Raiders got some pressure on Thomas and Kaufman picked him off to settle the issue and to cap an absolutely brilliant individual performance in which he earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the Raiders.
“We knew going into the game that it was going to be a battle from the start to the finish,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “It certainly didn’t disappoint. I am just really, really proud of these kids and how hard they worked, all the things they’ve accomplished. They battled to the last heartbeat.”
Fertitta reserved special praise for Kaufman’s performance.
“Kaufman is a really talented football player,” Fertitta said. “We knew he’d be trouble on defense. They put him in on offense and let him run the ball. We knew he was trouble on special teams. That’s what happens when you play in a state championship game. They’ve got good players, too!”
Rummel coach Nick Monica guided his Raiders to a perfect season and state championship in his first year on the job.
“It’s just been awesome,” Monica said. “The coaches really wanted this for the kids. There are some special kids in that room. We wanted them to experience this feeling that we are watching now. We did a good job. We didn’t panic at halftime. We tweaked a couple of things and made sure that we aligned right. Our defense played fabulous in the second half.
Monica summed up Kaufman perfectly.
“Donovan Kaufman just took the game over,” Monica said. “He is a brilliant player. We wanted to use him more on offense but their tempo on offense kept him on the field so much on defense and we didn’t want him to get worn down in the fourth quarter. We put him at the perfect time. He made two fabulous plays for us and made a great play in the first half as well.”
Catholic outgained Rummel 346-137 but could not complete drives. Thomas finished 17-of-24 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Parker rushed 15 times for 78 yards and caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and he returned two kickoffs for 61 yards to earn Most Outstanding Player honors for the Bears. Wickersham was 6-of-11 for 51 yards and Diggs had 14 carries for 45 yards.
It is the third state championship for Rummel (13-0), all since 2012. The win avenged a 13-10 semifinal loss to Catholic a year ago and a 31-28 loss to the Bears in the 2015 Division I state championship game.
“It’s feels great to be a Rummel Raider,” Wickersham said.
Rummel 0 0 0 14 14
Catholic 0 3 0 7 10
CATH—Kylan Dupre, 23-yard field goal
RUM—Donovan Kaufman, 9-yard run (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
CATH—Josh Parker, 43-yard pass from Jackson Thomas (Kylan Dupre kick)
RUM—Donovan Kaufman, 95-yard kickoff return (Patrick Vanderbrook kick)
CATH 18, RUM 7
CATH 2, RUM 1
CATH 1, RUM 1
CATH 160, Rum 86
CATH 186, RUM 51
CATH 346, RUM 137
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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…