St. Charles Catholic earns opportunity for repeat by downing Notre Dame, 17-10

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LAPLACE – Death, taxes, and Notre Dame versus St. Charles Catholic in the LHSAA high school football semifinals. The three guarantees in life.

Perhaps there is a fourth guarantee as well – the Comets beating the Pioneers in the semifinals.

No. 2 seed St. Charles Catholic put together another fierce defensive performance, smothering No. 3 seed Notre Dame for a 17-10 victory Friday night at Thomas Dupuy Stadium, Frank Monica Field.

With the win, the Comets earned the right to defend their Division III Select crown next week.

“It was the best defensive performance I’ve ever seen,” said St. Charles Catholic head coach Wayne Stein on his team’s stellar defensive effort. “We knew we were playing the best competition all season up to this point and our kids stepped up and answered the call.”

A week after Notre Dame lit up the scoreboard with 47 points in the quarterfinals, St. Charles Catholic held the explosive Pioneers offense to just three points.

“They’ve just got the edge on us right now and we can’t seem to get that step on them. Maybe one day we’ll get back on them,” said Notre Dame head coach Lewis Cook.

The Comets contained the edge all night, stuffing the Pioneers ground attack and holding them to only 79 yards rushing.

“Their defense coming up with the stops. Fourth down stops, third down stops. We moved it, but just couldn’t sustain it,” said Cook. “Both defenses played lights out, but the difference was they made 3 or 4 plays and we couldn’t get it done.”

Even with their offense stuffed all night long, the special teams kept the Pios in it.

Trailing 17-3 with 3:30 to play in the game, Notre Dame suddenly were right back in the game. Senior linebacker Johann Hensgens not only blocked the punt but caught the ball in mid-air and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown for the Pios to narrow the deficit to 17-10 with 3:19 to play in contest.

An ensuing onside kick was easily fielded by the Comets, and the St. Charles offense managed to run out out the clock.

St. Charles Catholic (10-3) found tough sledding offensively as well, grinding out 249 yards of total offense against the feisty Notre Dame defense.

Senior quarterback Ayden Authement put the Comets offense on his shoulders and led them to their two touchdowns. He rushed for 58 yards for the game, including a 32-yard touchdown run to give St. Charles Catholic a 7-0 lead with 2:19 to play in the first quarter.

The Pios appeared to have an opportunity to breakthrough. After Authement was sacked at his own one-yard line, the ensuing punt was shanked and downed at the Comets 26-yard line with 2:43 to play in the second quarter.

A pass interference penalty moved the ball to the Comets 12-yard line but Notre Dame (10-3) settled for a 24-yard field goal by senior kicker Cameron Fusilier to make it 7-3 with 41 seconds to play in first half.

While Authement only logged 55 yards passing, he connected with senior running back Davon Sturgis for a 40-yard score with just 17 seconds to play in the first half, giving St. Charles Catholic a 14-3 lead and a huge momentum swing at halftime.

Making the most of his touches, Sturgis paced all rushers, tallying 75 yards on just five carries. Senior running back Samare Scott, who returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown last week in the St. Charles quarterfinal win, added 61 yards on nine carries.

Freshman kicker Tyler Milioto put the final points on the board for the Comets with a 26-yard field goal to bring the St. Charles Catholic lead to 17-3 with 10:16 to play.

Next up for St. Charles Catholic is a date with No. 4 Dunham (13-0) in the Division III Select State Championship game next Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the Caesars Superdome.

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