Kendrick Baudoin (10) breaks up a pass.
North Vermilion falls to Ascension
Coach Matt Desormeaux’s Ascension Episcopal Blue Gator took momentum from a 95-yard drive and opted to go for the win instead of overtime Friday night here at Patriots Stadium. And boy did the gamble pay off.
Wide receiver Seth Kirstetter took the snap in the wildcat formation, sprinted hard to the right, and fooled everyone as he put on the breaks and threw back across the field to a wide open Ethan Leoni who snuck across the formation from his tight end spot to give AES a 22-21 win over the Patriots.
The win moved the Blue Gators to a perfect 3-0 start, while the Patriots suffered their first loss of the season, falling to 2-1.
With the Patriots leading 21-14 with under 4 minutes to play, the Blue Gator defense was able to hold the NV offense forcing a punt with 2:40 left to play. With no time outs and 95 yards in front of them AES completed back to back passes from Cole Simon to Leoni and a big 56-yard reception from Simon to Will Kerstetter to put themselves in position for the tying score. Jhalen Brown did the honors by pounding the middle for a three yard touchdown run to set up the two-point game winning conversion.
“Our kids played with great effort tonight,” said Patriot Coach Brett Blakey, “we had to overcome a whole lot of adversity tonight and our kids put themselves in position to win the game. We had some kids step up and make plays but we came up a little bit short.”
With the Blue Gators taking their opening drive 75-yards in 8 plays to take a 7-0 lead, the Patriots were dealt with their first blow of the game as starting quarterback Garrett Becker was injured on the first play of the game after a nice 12-yard run. Becker would try to go a few more snaps, but eventually gave way to sophomore back up Dale Martin.
The Patriots first scoring opportunity came right at the start of the second quarter as they drove down to the 15-yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was the Patriots in a tough position forcing NV to settle for a 43-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right.
On the next offensive possession, however, the Patriots were able to get on the scoreboard as running back Malik Criner broke loose on an 82-yard run for the score. Hunter Hulin knocked home the extra point to tie things at seven. Criner would finish the night with 196 yards rushing on 17 carries. Unfortunately for the Patriots, however, Criner was unable to continue past the third quarter as heat cramps got the best of him.
NV did put together a drive just before half, but missed another opportunity as a fumbled snap on the 15-yard line was recovered by AES.
The second half was a back and forth affair as well with the Patriots striking first as Criner’s 22 yard run set up a Kendrick Baudoin three yard score. The PAT was blocked for a 13-7 NV lead. AES answered with a score of their own as Seth Kirstetter took a speed sweep handoff and scampered 38 yards. The PAT was good for a 14-13 Blue Gator lead.
Kirstetter finished the night with 70 yards rushing and 177 yards receiving to go along with his game winning throw on the final two-point conversion.
Kirstetter’s only mistake of the night game a few minutes after his score as he muffed a punt with five minutes remaining with the Patriots recovered and marched in as Baudoin took it in from 14 yards out and added the two point run to give NV the 21-14 lead.
The Patriot pass rush came out on fire the next series and forced a three and out with sacks of 7 and 8 yards forcing AES to punt from their own end zone. The Patriots were set up in great field position at the 40 but were unable to sustain any drive before punting it away to set up the Blue Gator game winning drive.
“You work all week with a game plan and your starting quarterback goes out on the first play and it kind of changes what you can do. And then to have Malik go down in the third quarter didn’t help matters. But I am really proud of the way our back up guys stepped up and made plays, “ added Blakey.
Along with Criner’s 196 yards, Baudoin added 43 yards on 10 carries, Martin rushed for 38 yards on 10 carries and Darian Duhon added 34 yards on six carries.
Martin finished 8-of-14 for 69 yards in the air.
AES outgained NV as they threw for 282 yards and rushed for 143 more. NV finished the game with 320 yards on the ground and 69 by air.
The Patriots begin a two game road set with long trips to Varnado and South Beauregard before returning for Homecoming on October 5th versus Patterson.
“We will have to show back up to work on Monday and begin the process of bouncing back. Despite the loss, I feel like we turned the corner as a football team tonight as we had many different issues to overcome and we still gave ourselves a chance to win.”