Quick strike Ram attack dooms Bulldogs

Published 3:06 am Saturday, October 13, 2012


Special to L’Observateur

Sometimes, a large margin of victory still doesn’t do an offensive performance justice. West St. John ran away with a 62-21 win against Ascension Catholic on Friday night at home, but how they racked up the points was perhaps even more impressive than the final score.

The Rams (3-3) recorded 267 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The defense returned a fumble for a score. And junior quarterback Austin Howard managed the offensive masterfully, completing 15 of 17 passes for 253 yards and five touchdowns in West St. John’s second district win of the season.

“[Howard] has to manage it,” Rams Coach Robert Valdez said. “He just has to put is in a good position. If you take the run, we have to throw, and if you take the throw, we have to run. We have some stability on offense, and that helps.”

The offense could seemingly do no wrong. Sophomore Jeremy Jackson had a career day receiving, hauling in six receptions for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson also had eight carries for 134 yards and a touchdown, while backfield mate Kylum Favorite carried the ball 12 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Favorite scored the first points of the game for either team on a 44-yard direct snap run with 9:29 remaining in the first quarter.

“They’re some hardheads,” Howard said. “That’s how I classify them. I always call them hardheads because when they get the ball, I know what they’re going to do with it. They’re not going back. They’re going to keep pushing forward, and they do what they have to do.”

Ascension Catholic played without the heart of its linebacking corp, Sam Mattingly, who missed the game with a high ankle sprain. The Rams held a slight edge in speed over their opponents, but Bulldogs Coach Doug Moreau said the clear difference lay in the two teams’ strength and physicality gap.

“In the offseason, we’ll think about this, how we needed to be a lot stronger because they were a whole lot stronger than us,” Moreau said. “They were bigger, but a whole lot of teams have been bigger than us. Every team we played has been bigger, but this team was a lot stronger than us.”

Perhaps the only area in which the Rams fell short of expectations was kick coverage. Ascension Catholic (5-1) senior Wade Bailey returned kickoffs consistently well, including during a 58-yard return to the Rams 34 yard line after Favorite’s second touchdown.

Fortunately for the Rams, Ascension Catholic fumbled the ball away at the 9 yard line, and West St. John never looked back, going up 28-0 after only one quarter. The fumble was the first in a series of miscues for the Bulldogs, which included several more fumbles and costly penalties that took back several big plays.

“I don’t know where they came from,” Moreau said. “… We let the score get slack-dab out of whack. Every big play we had, we had a dang penalty on it, and then, we turned the ball over on little simple things we’ve been doing all year. Our mind was not as sharp as it needed to be tonight.

Senior defensive back Raymond Draten capped the opening quarter barrage with a 15-yard fumble return to the end zone with 42.7 seconds remaining.

Howard took over in the second quarter, throwing three touchdown passes to three different receivers: senior Timothy Nelson, Favorite and Jackson. West St. John was up 48-0 at halftime, while Ascension Catholic was held to under 50 yards of total offense.

The Rams defense finally surrendered its first touchdown of the game on the Bulldogs’ opening drive of the third quarter. On the first play of the drive, junior quarterback D.J. Latino ran 69 yards to the West St. John 11 yard line and later punched it in for a 1-yard touchdown that left Ascension Catholic trailing 48-7 with 9:29 remaining in the quarter.

West St. John did not let its foot off the gas until it was up 62-7 with 9:34 left in the game, and the Bulldogs scored two late touchdowns.

Senior Keith Miller was the team’s second-leading receiver; he caught three passes for 72 yards. Favorite finished with four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams will play at home once again at 7 p.m. Friday against White Castle.