Ascension Episcopal’s Offense Explodes In Quarterfinal Win
YOUNGSVILLE – The difference in a healthy Jake Vascocu and an injured Jake Vascocu are night and day, and that difference was on display Friday night at Blue Gator Stadium.
Ascension Episcopal’s junior quarterback hobbled through the Blue Gators’ first-round playoff win one week ago, but it would be hard to convince St. Frederick of that.
Vascocu threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth – in the first half – and the top-seeded Gators never looked back on the way to a 58-35 victory over the Monroe-based Warriors.
Vascocu, who suffered a sprained ankle late in the regular-season finale and was limited in last week’s 45-7 win over Highland Baptist, finished the night with 485 passing yards and six touchdowns on 16-of-28 throws. He also had a five-yard touchdown run seven seconds before halftime that gave the Gators a commanding 41-21 lead.
“Jake’s getting there … he’s getting better every day,” said AES coach Matt Desormeaux. “He was obviously a different player than one week ago.
Vascocu had touchdown passes of 51, 55, 15 and 66 yards in the first half, and added a 94-yard strike to Ronald LeBlanc on the first play of the fourth quarter that effectively locked up the Gators’ berth in Friday’s Division IV semifinals.
In that game, Ascension will be at home for a third straight week and will host District 7-1A rival Central Catholic, a 42-27 winner over Westminster in another Friday quarterfinal. The winner there heads to the Dec. 2 championship game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“They’ve got a chance to win it all,” said St. Frederick coach Jeffrey Tannehill. “Those guys outside (the receivers) have a lot of talent, and the quarterback, he’s so elusive.”
The same could be said for Warrior quarterback Barrett Coon, who himself threw for 437 yards and four touchdowns for the eighth-seeded visitors. In all, the two quarterbacks accounted for 1,028 offensive yards rushing and passing.
“Defense was not the name of the game tonight,” Tannehill said. “We’ve got a young secondary and they (Ascension) did a good job of exploiting that.”
Even on such a wide open offensive night – the teams combined for 1,131 yards – it was two defensive plays by the Blue Gators that provided the biggest first-half boost. Late in the first quarter, Andrew Hebert intercepted a Coon pass inside Gator territory to halt a drive, and two minutes into the second period Coon was blind-sided and fumbled, Mike Remondet getting the recovery for AES.
Those were the only two turnovers in the game despite a rain-marred second half and a 52-minute lightning delay one play into the fourth quarter. But the Gators turned both into scores, with Vascocu hitting Seth Kerstetter and the sophomore juke-stepped two defenders on a 55-yard scoring burst five plays into the second period.
Coon’s fumble came three plays later at the AES 31, and Vascocu hit Zack Ronquillo with a 15-yard lob pass on the back line of the end zone for a 20-7 lead.
“Our defense did a good job,” Desormeaux said. “We didn’t come out hot on offense, but the defense got us those turnovers and we were able to do something with them.”
The Gators (12-0) spotted St. Frederick (7-5) an early 7-0 lead and then outscored the Warriors 41-14 over the final 16 minutes of the first half. Ascension put up 34 points in the second quarter alone on the way to its 41-21 halftime lead.
“They (St. Frederick) were very strong up front,” Desormeaux said. “They made us throw the ball, and we were able to make some big plays.”
LeBlanc had Ascension’s last three scoring grabs and ended up with 216 yards on only five catches, while Ronquillo had seven catches for 188 yards and a pair of first-half scores. Not to be outdone in the offensive showcase, Warrior wide receivers John Ellender and Tyler Harris combined for 323 yards – Ellender catching 11 passes for 203 yards and Harris recording 120 yards on only two catches.
Ascension Episcopal 58, St. Frederick 35
SF 7 14 0 14 -- 35
AES 7 34 3 14 -- 58
SF – Cordarius Banks 2 run (Gavin Corder kick)
AES – Zack Ronquillo 51 pass from Jake Vascocu (Taylor Doss kick)
AES – Seth Kerstetter 55 pass from Vascocu (Doss kick)
AES – Ronquillo 15 pass from Vascocu (kick failed)
SF – Tyler Harris 68 pass from Barrett Coon (Corder kick)
AES – Leo Franques 1 run (Doss kick)
SF – John Ellender 67 pass from Coon (Corder kick)
AES – Ronald LeBlanc 66 pass from Vascocu (Doss kick)
AES – Vascocu 5 run (Doss kick)
AES – Doss 29 field goal
AES – LeBlanc 94 pass from Vascocu (Doss kick)
SF – Bates 15 pass from Coon (Corder kick)
AES – LeBlanc 20 pass from Vascocu (Doss kick)
SF – Matthew Webb 9 pass from Coon (Corder kick)
First downs 22 19
Rushing Yards 93 116
Passing Yards 437 485
Total Yards 530 601
Comp-Att-Int 21-30-1 16-28-0
Punts 2-39.5 2-37.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-44 7-67
RUSHING – SF: Cordarius Banks 10-39 1 TD, Barrett Coon 15-54. AES: Leo Franques 19-58 1 TD, Jake Vascocu 9-52 1 TD, Zack Ronquillo 2-9, Seth Kerstetter 1-2, team 1-minus 5.
PASSING – SF: Coon 21-30-1, 437 yds., 4 TD. AES: Vascocu 16-28-0, 485 yds., 6 TD.
RECEIVING – SF: John Ellender 11-203 1 TD, Tyler Harris 2-120 1 TD, Matthew Webb 6-73 1 TD, Ford Sparks 1-26, Banks 1-15 1 TD. AES: Ronald LeBlanc 5-216 3 TD, Ronquillo 7-188 2 TD, Seth Kerstetter 4-81 1 TD.