With an exciting 35-31 victory over All Saints Episcopal School, the Nolan Catholic Vikings are headed to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools' (TAPPS) state championship game.
An exciting, physical matchup between the Fort Worth rivals proved to be as thrilling as anticipated. Although Nolan Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, All Saints were quick to catch up and take a 17-14 lead seconds before halftime on a field goal by Andrew Lin.
All Saints came into the second half and immediately set the tone with a touchdown. From there, it was a back and forth game that involved the Saints continually rushing up the middle with a run game that the Vikings struggled to defend.
Nolan Catholic began to rally in the third quarter with a huge fumble recovery by Vincent Paige. Senior quarterback Jimmy Taylor was able to capitalize on the fumble recovery with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Saimone Davis. Taylor later connected with Nelly Ishimwe on a 16-yard touchdown pass to take the 28-24 lead. All Saints answered as Hampton Fay connected with Tony Lacy for a 31-28 lead with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
Nolan Catholic was able to score one more time with a 7-yard touchdown run from Emeka Megwa. Megwa later broke free with a 82-yard run in a drive, but the Vikings failed to score a touchdown on the drive. Despite that, Nolan Catholic's defense was able to hold off the Saints to clinch a berth in the TAPPS Division I title game.
Taylor ended with 241 passing yards while Megwa ended with 107 rushing yards and one touchdown. Irene Ngabonziza totaled 169 receiving yards on eight receptions and scored one touchdown.
Head Coach David Beaudin had only good things to say to his team in an emotional post-game huddle. Beaudin constantly reiterated the fact that he loved the team and they have one more week to prepare for a state title.
Taylor recognized that there is still a lot of work both he and his team have to do before the championship game, but said he was never worried about the score when they were trailing.
"I have faith in my team. I knew we were going to be fine," Taylor said. "I learned that we still have a lot of work to do. No matter what, the next game is going to be my last. We always say we're going to win and the next week won't be our last, but no matter what, next week is my last. I'm going to do whatever I can to not leave sad."
With the victory, Nolan Catholic, now 8-0 on the season, advances to the TAPPS championship game for its first appearance since 2013. The Vikings will face Parish Episcopal (9-1) in the championship matchup on December 12. Parish defeated Midland Christian (41-7) to advance to the finals.