By Lyall Boudreaux
Ruston Runs Past EA
RUSTON – Running back Ketravion Hargrove rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns in leading No. 20 Ruston to an upset win over fourth-seeded East Ascension 21-13 last Friday night in a Class 5A regional round game at James Field at L. J. “Hoss: Garrett Stadium in Ruston.
Hargrove scored a pair of first half touchdowns in helping the Bearcats advance to the quarterfinals against Zachary.
The junior had four rushing touchdowns in Ruston’s bidistrict round road win at Dutchtown 29-27 last week.
The first big offensive play of the second-round matchup came when Ruston quarterback Jaden Procell and Hargrove hooked up on the home team’s second possession of the game.
Faced with a third-and-seven, the Bearcats dialed up a screen pass and Procell lofted a throw over the oncoming EA rushers to Hargrove who raced 69 yards to the end zone.
The Spartans answered on a quick 2-play drive with Ethan Bagwell gaining 62-yards on a first down carry and finishing the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on the next play to tie the score at 7-7 with 2:24 remaining in the first quarter.
Ruston (7-5) turned to their running game on their next drive and Hargrove struck again, this time on a 51-yard gain setting up a first-and-goal.
Fullback Devian Wilson moved the Bearcats to the 1 to end the first quarter and Hargrove scored on the first play of the second quarter to put Ruston ahead 14-7.
The Spartans responded following a Tyler Mansfield muffed punt that was recovered by Jacquell Mack. Cameron Jones found wide receiver Jyrin Johnson on an inside route that was good for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Logan Kern’s PAT was no good after it was deflected by the Bearcats and hit off the upright and kicked back onto the artificial turf in the end zone sending the teams to halftime with the home team on top 14-13.
Battling a fierce Ruston pass rush and a drizzling rain throughout much of the game, EA’s Jones was 8-of-19 passing for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Defensive lineman Ja’Raylon Burks led the Bearcats with five tackles and two of the team’s four sacks.
Despite recovering a couple of muff punts that resulted in good field position, the Spartans were blanked in the second half.
With EA’s lack of success moving the ball after halftime, Ruston’s offensive line slowly started to wear down the Spartans defense late in the game.
The Bearcats ran for 192 total yards and possessed the ball for over 27 minutes.
Ruston increased their lead after running back Deondre Griffin replaced Hargrove, who left with an injury in the third quarter.
The biggest play of the second half came when Griffin rushed past East Ascension defenders on a draw play on a third-and-22 and picked up 37 yards. A facemask penalty added 15 more yards to the play setting up Wilson’s 4-yard touchdown run for the only second half points and a 21-13 Ruston lead.
After the Spartans were forced to punt, Ruston put the game away when Griffin ran for a first down on a fourth-and-1 at the Bearcat 44-yard line.
A questionable helmet-to-helmet hit with 2:54 remaining against EA all but sealed the deal for the home team and Wilson moved the sticks one more time with another first down run to eat up the rest of the clock.
Griffin ran for a game-high 81 yards on 16 carries and Procell completed 6-of-10 attempts for 126 yards and a score
East Ascension (9-3) closes out its season in the regional round for the third time in four years after making the quarterfinal round last year.