By Dan McDonald
Special to Sports Radio ESPN 1420

YOUNGSVILLE – Yes, Ascension Episcopal will get along just fine without Jake Arceneaux.

The Blue Gator football fortunes didn’t seem to miss a beat Friday night even though Arceneaux has moved on to a spot in UL’s Ragin’ Cajun program. Junior Jake Vascocu saw to that in very impressive style.

Vascocu led an offense that was markedly consistent for a season opener, as the defending state semifinalist Gators humbled East Beauregard 47-8.

Vascocu ran for two scores and threw for another, hitting 10 of his 12 pass attempts, and highlighted a Gator attack that scored on all but one of its seven possessions. And the only time AES didn’t score offensively, it started the visiting Trojans at their own 8-yard line – and promptly recorded a safety on East Beauregard’s third play from scrimmage.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” said AES coach Matt Desormeaux, making his head-coaching debut in taking over for older brother Mike Desormeaux this season. “East Beauregard plays a very physical game and they don’t quit, so I was really pleased with a lot of the things that we did.”

So was Vascocu, who had scoring runs of four and eight yards in the first half and capped his night with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Ronald LeBlanc before the mid-point of the third quarter. In all, the junior threw for 127 yards for an offense that had only one negative-yardage play all evening.

“We knew that our chemistry would be good,” said Vascocu, who played in other offensive positions last year while Arceneaux set school passing records before signing with the hometown UL program. “People say we’re young, but a lot of us have played a lot. We’re pretty experienced.”

The only time the eighth-ranked Gators (1-0) didn’t score was on their first possession of the game after driving inside the East Beauregard 10-yard-line. Leo Franques fumbled at the end of a first-down run and James Bailey recovered for the Trojans at his own eight-yard-line.

But Ascension’s defense rose to the fore when LeBlanc and cornerback John Wyatt Hinds teamed to tackle Bailey in the end zone on third down for the early 2-0 lead.
Six plays after the ensuing kickoff, it was 9-0 when two Franques runs and a 14-yard strike from Vascocu to LeBlanc set up Vascocu’s four-yard touchdown sweep.
Six minutes later, three straight double-digit-yardage plays set up Franques’ one-yard scoring run that made it 16-0 only one minute into the second quarter. Franques also had the game’s final offensive touchdown with a six-yard run on the final play of the third period.

East Beauregard (0-1) only cracked midfield twice in the game, one coming midway through the second quarter before the Blue Gator defense stuffed a fourth-down play at their own 34. The only other Trojan penetration came on an eight-minute drive in the fourth quarter, one capped by Noah Gill’s 16-yard scoring pass to Devin Perkins with 28 seconds left – East Beauregard’s only pass attempt of the game.

“Last week was the first time since last year’s semifinals that we really had any game-type experience,” Desormeaux said. “We didn’t have a spring game, our scrimmage got cancelled, and we can’t afford in our situation to have a lot of contact at practice. We were worried that we hadn’t done a lot of tackling, and we’ve got some new defensive linemen in there. I was really pleased with the way they played.”

Vascocu’s sweep for an eight-yard touchdown 2:35 before the half made it 23-0 and Taylor Doss hit a 35-yard field goal three seconds before halftime for a 26-0 advantage. The Gators then went 40 yards on only six plays on their first possession of the second half when Vascocu hit LeBlanc for a score on his final play of the evening.

Backup quarterback Sean-Michael Brady made an impact in the fourth quarter even though Ascension’s only offensive snap of the period was killing the clock in the final 28 seconds. Brady came up with a loose ball on a fumble with 8:46 left and returned it 36 yards for the Gators’ final score.

With East Beauregard’s ball-control Wing-T attack, AES only ran 39 offensive plays all night. But Vascocu and company made most of them count.

“I was really confident going in,” he said. “I knew I had a lot of guys out there that were going to back me up.”

Ascension Episcopal 47, East Beauregard 8
EB     0   0    0   8  -- 8
AES  9  17  14  7  -- 47
First Quarter
AES – Safety, James Bailey tackled in end zone
AES – Jake Vascocu 4 run (Taylor Doss kick)
Second Quarter
AES – Leo Franques 1 run (Doss kick)
AES – Vascocu 8 run (Doss kick)
AES – Doss 35 field goal
Third Quarter
AES – Ronald LeBlanc 6 pass from Vascocu (Doss kick)
AES – Franques 6 run (Doss kick)
Fourth Quarter
AES – Sean-Michael Brady 36 fumble return (Doss kick)
EB – Devin Perkins 16 pass from Noah Gill (Perkins run)

EB      AES
First downs             12        16
Rushing Yards       104      191
Passing Yards        16       135
Total Yards             120      326
Comp-Att-Int         1-1-0  12-15-0
Punts                     3-17.0   0-0
Fumbles-lost           5-1      1-1
Penalties-yards      1-5      9-50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING – EB: Zach Doucet 7-35, Devin Baumery 10-33, Devin Perkins 12-32, M. J. Williams 14-22, Andrew Cantrelle 2-5, James Bailey 2-minus 7, Noah Gill 4-minus 16. AES: Leo Franques 14-128 2 TD, Jake Vascocu 6-29 2 TD, Zach Ronquillo 3-34, team 1-0.
PASSING – EB: Gill 1-1-0, 16 yds., 1 TD. AES: Vascocu 10-12-0, 127 yds., 1 TD; Sean-Michael Brady 2-3-0, 8 yds.
RECEIVING – EB: Perkins 1-16 1 TD. AES: Seth Kerstetter 4-54, Roland LeBlanc 3-38 1 TD, Ronquillo 3-35, Jack Leoni 1-9, Gus Maraist 1-minus 1.