Bogalusa residents cap off PJP season

Published 9:49 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

COVINGTON — A pair of Pope John Paul II players, senior Andrew Arata and sophomore Joe Ezell, who are Bogalusa residents, played their final regular season games of 2015 Thursday night in a 54-23 loss to Archbishop Hannan on the road.

Arata, a senior, has proven to be a versatile player for the Jaguars. He rarely comes off the field. He lines up at wide receiver, cornerback and handled the team’s kickoff duties. He is also on the punt and kickoff return teams.

Offensively on Thursday, Arata caught five passes for 23 yards and also had a run on a jet sweep.

Defensively, he made six tackles, including five solo tackles and an assist. He intercepted a pass near the end of the first half that set up the Jaguars’ first tally of the contest.

On special teams, Arata kicked off four times.

“Andrew is a hard worker,” Pope John Paul II coach Daryl Thomas said. “He played well for us all season. He does a lot of things that keeps us going. He picked up a lot of slack from last year from the graduating seniors.

“He is one of five seniors that we had that and he did very well. He stepped his leadership up and that’s all you can really ask for from your senior.”

Ezell, a sophomore, plays left guard and comes in to spell players who go both ways. Ezell also blocks on the Jaguars extra point team.

Thomas said Ezell is going through some growing pains, but is helping the team out.

“He gives us good minutes on the offensive line to give guys rest because we’ve got a lot of guys that go both ways,” Thomas said. “If he puts his mind to it, he’s going to be a very good player.”

Pope John Paul fell behind 20-0 with 58.6 seconds left, and then went three-and-out on its next possession.

The Jaguars punted and the Hawks took over with about 35 seconds on the clock, but on first down, Arata picked off a pass and ran it back 43 yards, setting up the Jaguars at Hannan’s 36-yard line with 18.9 seconds left.

The Jaguars moved the ball to the 21 with 4.8 seconds on the clock. David Doane looked to pass, but did not find anybody. Doane then took off running in the open field. Doane went to toward the left sideline, dove for the pylon and scored with no time left. Doane ran in the two-point conversion after a pair of offside penalties on Hannan. It was 20-8 at halftime.

Pope John Paul drove the opening drive of the second half to Hannan’s 13, but got lost five yards on a run. The drive stalled at the 18, but Kade Dixon nailed a 35-yard field goal, trimming the lead to 20-11.

The Hawks scored 20 unanswered points to break the game open, before PJP responded with a 7-yard touchdown by Chris Brown early in the fourth quarter. It was 40-17 after the two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

Hannan’s Joshua Butler returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to pay dirt and Sellen added the extra point for a 47-17 contest.

PJP’s Doane later ran 51 yards for a touchdown, trimming the lead to 47-23 after the unsuccessful two-pointer.

The Hawks scored their final touchdown of the game on a fumble recovery with 8.3 seconds left.