John Curtis advances to the Dome with a 24-21 win over Catholic

In the LHSAA Division 1 select semi-finals, the John Curtis Christian Patriots traveled to Baton Rouge to go up against the Catholic-B.R. High Bears at Memorial Stadium. John Curtis is coming off a 35-14 win over C.E. Byrd, while Catholic took down the Edna Karr Cougars 32-24 last week. 

Catholic won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game. The Bears offense came out strong as they started their opening drive with a zone run to their sophomore running back Rylan Parker. Next play, quarterback Daniel Beale would go to LSU commit Shelton Sampson on a screen pass that would put them in John Curtis territory. The Catholic run game with Parker would put them at the Patriots 12 yard line, and setup a play action pass from Beale to Shelton Sampson for a Bears Touchdown.

After the Bears 8 play drive put them on the scoreboard first, the Patriots would have a drive of their own. John Curtis got their run game going early with the help of junior running back Marlon Prout and quarterback Dagan Bruno. The Patriots drove down field on the Bears’ defense but they came up short after senior linebacker Judd Rouyea forced a fourth down. John Curtis would end the drive with a field goal to make the score 7-3 with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Catholic would start their drive at their own 25 yard line and went back to the run game with sophomore Jeremy Fisher Jr. . Following back-to-back runs with Fisher, Beale tried to find his receiver but would come up incomplete. Beale would try to go back to Sampson on a big third down, but came up incomplete with Patriots’ defensive back Tyler Hayes on the coverage.

In the second quarter, John Curtis started the drive from their own 30 yard line. After a Marlon Prout handoff, the Patriots tried a screen pass on third down but the pass was dropped, forcing the Patriots to punt the ball back to the Bears. Catholic started the drive from their own 25 yard line and stuck with the run game with Rylan Parker. Parker’s first carry was a big one as he took off for a gain of 25 yards and put the Bears in Patriots’ territory. Following back-to-back runs with Parker and a pass thrown out of bounds, Beale tried to find his favorite target Sampson but the ball was tipped in the air and Patriots sophomore linebacker Jason Curtis came up with the interception.

After the interception, the Patriots started their drive with a 14 yard run by Marlon Prout. The Bears’ defense would force a third and short, but Drago Bruno would give the Patriots a first down on a QB sneak. The Patriots would look to their senior running back Aaron Johnson Jr. and junior Kaheam Smith, however the Bears defense stood tall. On third down, the Patriots would try to run a reverse end around, but the Bears’ defense were not fooled and stopped them.

Catholic started their drive with about 4 minutes left in the first half as they looked to their running back Parker on back-to-back plays. On a third and 5, Beale would find sophomore receiver Cohen LeBlanc over the middle for a gain of 18 yards and give the Bears a first down. Following a couple of passes to Sampson and Bradley Wright, Beale would go back to LeBlanc and he would put the Bears at the Patriots’ 6 yard line. On the next play, Beale dropped back and found receiver Daniel Harden over the middle for a touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the first half.

In the third quarter, things would change as the John Curtis offense came alive in the second half. The Patriots started their opening drive with a Marlon Prout run. Following a couple of runs, Drago Bruno took off for a big run of his own and put the Patriots around midfield. The Patriots’ offense would get their passing game going as Bruno fired a pass downfield to Jason Gabriel for a gain of 20 yards. Following the big pass to Gabriel, the Patriots would go back to Marlon Prout and he would do the rest as he punched it in for a Patriots touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Patriots came up with a big fumble as the Bears’ returner mishandled the catch. The Patriots took advantage of the opportunity as the first play would be a handoff to Aaron Johnson up the middle and he punched it in for the score. Johnson’s touchdown would give the Patriots their first lead of the game .

The Patriots defense came up big as they forced the Bears’ offense to a 3 and out. John Curtis started the drive at their own 30 yard line and went back to their running back Prout. Curtis stuck to their run heavy offense as they looked to Aaron Johnson and Jason Gabriel on back-to-back plays. The Patriots would go back to the passing game as a play action pass freed up receiver Tyler Mitchell and Bruno found his receiver wide open for 53 yard passing touchdown.

As Catholic took over, the Bears’ would look to Parker on back-to-back run plays. After a first down, Beale tried to roll out but Patriots’ defender Austin Ackel closed in and provided the sack on Beale .

Following a deep shot to Sampson that ended up incomplete, Beale would find Daniel Harden on a screen pass, but the Patriots’ defenders were able to close in before he could go anywhere. After a run by Parker, Beale would take off for run up the middle and give the Bears a first down. As the Bears’ offense drove down field, Beale would go to Sampson again and find him in the end zone for a Bears’ touchdown. Sampson and Beale’s second touchdown connection of the game would make the score 24-21 with about five minutes remaining in the game.

The Patriots offense took over at their own 30 yard and looked to their running back Gabriel. On third down, the Patriots handed the ball off to Aaron Johnson but the Bears’ nose guard Joshua Johnson came up with the big stop.

The Patriots’ defense came up big in the closing minutes of the game as they forced Beale with back-to-back incompletions, which forced a fourth down. On fourth down, Beale rolled out and tired to find Sampson near the sideline but his pass ended up being off target, giving John Curtis the ball with less than 2 minutes in the game. The Patriots’ looked to running back Johnson but the Bears’ defense stopped him short. On the third down, Drago Bruno faked the handoff and took off to give the Patriots a first down. Bruno would take a few kneels as the clock winded down and they would go on to win 24-21.

The Patriots’ run heavy offense would be too much for the Bears’ defense as they accounted for about 240 rushing yards with Marlon Prout leading the team with 81 yards on the ground.

As John Curtis pull of the win, they punch their ticket to Dome for a chance at the select Division I championship. The Patriots will face off against Brother Martin, who defeated Carencro 55-24. This Division I matchup will be played next Saturday at 7pm in the Caesars Superdome.