Varnado defeats Catholic, 34-12

Published 11:42 pm Friday, September 23, 2016

Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said his team played the first half Friday night the way their opponent wanted to play, and then in the second half the Wildcats played “Varnado football.”

Varnado broke a 6-6 halftime tie open with 28 points in the second half, as the Wildcats earned a 34-12 win over visiting Catholic of Pointe Coupee.

“We wanted to speed the game up after halftime,” Shaffett said. “In the first half, we were taking our time in the huddle and slowing the game down, and I think that played to our opponent’s advantage. In the second half, we changed things up.”

The Wildcats improved to 2-2, while Catholic fell to 1-3.

The visiting Hornets took an early lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter, when Andrew Grezaffi scored on a 7-yard run. Nathan Carriere was tackled short of the two-point conversion.

Varnado tied the game late in the second quarter. During the scoring drive, quarterback James Williams completed a 40-yard pass to Armontee Kemp on a third-and-4 conversion. Jadarrell Magee eventually scored on a 23-yard touchdown run with 2:24 left. The Wildcats attempted an extra point, but it was blocked.

The Wildcats took their first lead of the game with 5:00 left in the third quarter, when Kemp scored on a 9-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion run.

The Wildcats added to their lead later in the quarter, on a short drive set up by Errol Varnado’s 18-yard interception return to the Catholic 48. After a pair of short runs gained minimal yardage, Jacorius Bickham broke away for a long 45-yard touchdown run with 2:02 left in the third. It was Bickham’s first carry of the game.

Kemp’s two-point conversion run failed, but the Wildcats still led 20-6.

“We’ve got a good running game and a lot of guys who can make plays with the ball,” Shaffett said. “I thought Jacorius did a real good job for us tonight at wingback.”

Varnado used another turnover to set up its next scoring drive, when Kemp recovered a fumble at the Catholic 10 in the fourth quarter. On the next play, Magee ran for a touchdown and Bickham added the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats ahead 28-6 with 7:04 left in the game.

Carriere added a 6-yard touchdown run for Catholic with 3:08 left, but Varnado responded on its next drive. Desmond Harry broke away for a long 40-yard touchdown run, although the extra point was missed with 1:32 remaining.

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats actually faced a third-and-52 situation following a sack and personal foul penalty that moved the ball to the Varnado 47.

Williams eventually completed a long pass to Harry to make it fourth-and-11 on the Catholic 12, but the Wildcats failed to convert the fourth down on an incomplete pass.

“Yeah, we call it ‘Pray,’” Shaffett said with a laugh, when asked if the Wildcats had a play in their playbook for a third-and-52 conversion. “But hey, we almost converted it!”

Shaffett was able to joke around about the long conversion after the game, because the Wildcats had an overall solid performance.

“I was really proud of our team and the way we played,” he said. “We had some great plays on special teams and caused some turnovers. Those are things that hurt us last Friday (in a loss to Berwick), and tonight they really helped us.”

Varnado will travel to face South Plaquemines next Friday, in the final game before the Wildcats begin district play.