By Peter Pasqua
DONALDSONVILLE – Ascension Catholic’s run to consecutive Division IV state championship game appearances has ended with a 26-14 quarterfinal loss to Southern Lab Friday night at Floyd Boutte Memorial Stadium.
The third seeded Bulldogs (10-1), under first-year coach Benny Saia, turned the ball over three times and No. 6 Southern Lab (8-3) sealed the win by returning one for a touchdown with 1:31 remaining.
The Kittens led 18-14 when Maurice Blanchard returned a strip sack of Ascension Catholic quarterback Bryce Leonard for the score.
Southern Lab led 12-7 at the half after quarterback Angelo Izzard threw a 6-yard touchdown to Reginald Johnson. The Kittens went ahead early on a 15-yard touchdown run by Dae’lon Hardy before Ascension Catholic answered on a 44-yard scoring run from Khai Prean.
The Bulldogs led 14-12 when Jacob Dunn returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter but Lutrell Pruitt put Southern Lab up for good on a 6-yard run with 6:43 left to play. Promising drives by both teams to open the second half resulted in interceptions.
Ascension Catholic running back Jai Williams led all rushers with 90 yards.
The Kittens will host No. 7 seed Catholic-Pointe Coupee, a 13-0 upset winner of second seed Opelousas Catholic, in the semifinals.