Ouachita Christian defeats Vermilion Catholic for Division IV Select title

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NEW ORLEANS – Ouachita Christian has been known to often perform it best on the big stage. Looking to come out on top again, the OCS Eagles did just that.

Ending the undefeated season of Vermillion Catholic Eagles, OCS soared to a 28-14 victory in the Division IV Select state title game Thursday night in the 2022 Ochsner Prep Classic presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Saints in the Caesars Superdome.

Ouachita Christian (13-1) started well with an interception by Zachary White and an ensuing 65-yard touchdown drive oover 11 plays. Eagles quarterback Landon Graves scampered for a 12-yard touchdown, giving OCS an early 7-0 lead.

Vermillion Catholic (13-1) bounced back with a 68-yard drive on 11 plays. Jonathan Dartez punched it in for a two-yard touchdown to tie it.

From there, Ouachita Christian took charge.

Graves threw a 45-yard bomb to Tate Hamby down to the Vermillion Catholic 23-yard line and then found Drew Dougan for a 23-yard touchdown that lifted the Eagles to a 14-7 lead at the half.

Vermillion Catholic struggled against a stout OCS defense. Dartez was stripped Colton Alford, who recovered at the VC 41 yard line. As before, the turnover waa costly. White’s 16-yard touchdown doubled the OCS lead at 21-7.

White finished with 16 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Hamby had four catches for 89 yards.

The best Vermillion Catholic drive of the second half was snuffed out when Hogan snared his second interception of the game at the OCS four-yard line.

OCS put the game out of reach with a 96-yard drive over 12 plays, taking 7:29 off the clock. Graves capped the march by finding Dougan for a five-yard touchdown with 4:28 remaining.

Graves was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game. He finished 19 of 25 passing for 215 yards with three touchdowns and added 16 carries for 28 yards.

Vermillion Catholic was given a small lifeline when OCS Chad Strickland fumbled and Allen McClain III picks up the loose ball, returning it for a 60-yard touchdown. OCS recvered thefollowing onside kick and salted the game away.

“We’re really blessed with the kids that like to work hard. The young kids dream about wearing that gold helmet,” said OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh. “We don’t always have the biggest or strongest team but we have a love for their teammates and a sacrifice for each other.”

The Eagles had 329 yards total offense including 215 passing yards. Graves was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game. Graves following his father’s footsteps. Sol Graves was the quarterback for OCS in the 1985 state title victory over University Lab.

“This means so much to me and this school. Ouachita Christian has been so great to me. They gave me some many opportunities and I wouldn’t do this anywhere else,” said Graves. “We have good athletes but it’s the coaches that puts this together. We would do this without them.”

Vermillion Catholic had 240 yards total offense paced by Dartez’s 25 carries for 115 yards. He also went 9 of 17 passing for 96 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.

The VC Eagles defense gave up the most points they had also all season after entering with just 4.1 points allowed per game. They had held 13 out their previous 14 opponents to seven points or less.

“I’m so proud of the grit and determination they showed. This is the 1st time we trailed all year,” said Vermillion Catholic head coach Broc Prejean. “The poise and character they showed in those moments it’s really what tonight is about for me. We had 13 really good nights this year and we’re not going to let this overshadow our success. We put a lot smiles on people’s faces this year.”

The victory gave Ouachita Christian its eighth state title in school history.

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