John Curtis’s memorable 2017 football season came to an unfortunate end on the floor of the Louisiana Superdome Saturday afternoon. Two field goals in the game’s final three minutes carried Baton Rouge Catholic to a 20-14 win over the Patriots for the LHSAA Select Division I state championship Saturday afternoon in the Louisiana Superdome.
The Patriots fought back from seven-point deficits twice to tie the game, but the deciding blow came on a 15-play, 64 yard march that ended with a 20-yard field goal for the winning points. The drive ate up six minutes, finishing with 2:23 remaining in the game. The Bears then capitalized on a Curtis turnover to add three insurance points.
The outcome ended an 11-2 season, highlighted by a 10-game Curtis winning streak that included a 6-0 district 9-5A record and back-to-back undefeated Catholic League campaigns.
The Patriots fought a gritty uphill battle all the way in the finale and they were never able to take the lead. Collin Guggenheim and Darryan Washington scored the two Curtis touchdowns.
Catholic took a 7-0 lead at halftime on a 65-yard run from scrimmage. Guggenheim accounted for the first Patriot touchdown on a 19-yard run in the middle of the third quarter. The Patriot quarterback was playing with a broken index finger suffered earlier in the quarter. He didn’t miss a play.
The Bears retook the lead after a bad snap led to a short punt that was returned to the Curtis two yard-line. Two plays later, the Bears were in the end zone to cop a 14-7 advantage,
The Patriots’ answer started with an interception by Cade Beloso at the Catholic 28. Two runs by quarterback Collin Guggenheim picked up 10 yards and Washington ran for five yards to advance it to the 15. From there, Washington evaded four tacklers en route to the goal line and a 14-14 tie with 8:27 left in the game.
Two bizarre plays provided momentary joy but ended in disappointment for the Patriots: two touchbacks and two measurements.
Curtis impressively drove to the Catholic 43 on the game’s first possession. From there, Guggenheim hit Tyrone Legette over the middle and Legette sprinted to the goal line but was hit at the one yard line, fumbled, and Catholic recovered in the end zone to escape with a touchback.
In the second quarter, Patriot punter Austin McCready launched a 60-yard punt over the head of the Catholic returner, who bobbled the ball twice all the way back into the end zone. The official’s hands went in the air when Curtis recovered for an apparent touchdown. After a discussion the play was ruled a muffed punt, and by rule, Catholic escaped with another touchback.
Back-to-back measurements also played a role in the Bears’ decisive drive. Facing a third-and-one at the Curtis 40, the Catholic ball carrier was halted inches past the line of scrimmage. A measurement showed they were a foot short. The fourth down play resulted in a huge pile at the line causing the second measurement in as many plays. Patriot defenders, watching the stretched out chains, started to celebrate. But a closer look showed it was a first down by the nose of the football, and the drive continued.
The Patriots didn’t see the ball again until the 2:33 mark, trailing 17-14. Two interceptions and a 43-yard Catholic field goal accounted for the final score.
Curtis outgained the Bears by one yard, 288-287. The Patriots held a huge rushing advantage, 225-81, but Catholic, based on 22-of-31 passing, outgained Curtis through the air, 206-63. Curtis had 17 first downs to Catholic’s 14. The Bears’ two late interceptions gave them a 3-2 advantage in turnovers.
Guggenheim carried 19 times for 121 yards. Washington gained 43 yards on nine carries, Jones had 35 yards on eight carries, and Malik Wells picked up 20 yards on 5 carries. Guggenheim completed four of 10 passes for 63 yards; Legette caught three for 49 yards.