KNOCKED OUT: Comeaux’s opening kickoff return sets tone over No. 6 Dutchtown
GEISMAR – Comeaux claimed momentum on the first play of the contest and kept Dutchtown at bay through the remainder to secure a 17-7 Class 5A bi-district playoff upset victory Friday night at Griffin Field.
Quinnterries Augustine picked up the opening kickoff just in front of the Spartans’ end zone and raced 96 yards through the center of the Griffins’ cover team into the opposite end zone putting Comeaux ahead just 15 seconds into the game and draining the spirit out of the home crowd.
“It wasn’t a good way to start the game,” Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. “When something like that happens early, you have enough time to recover from it and we never did. We really didn’t play very well and they are a pretty good football team. We had penalties and they outplayed us. They haven’t given up many points to anybody so I knew it was going to be a low scoring game and we just didn’t get it done.
“I didn’t think we played well on offense or in the special teams and if that happens in two out of three phrases of the game, I think you lose. I think their defense is pretty good. I think our kids played hard. I have never questioned the effort of our kids. I don’t think we played smart. We had chances and made a lot of mistakes but I have never coached a Dutchtown football team that didn’t play hard.”
Sixth-seeded Dutchtown (7-4) had won its last two games while No. 27 seed Comeaux lost four of its last five games heading into the playoffs, but the Spartans set the tone early with a solid defense and ball control offense.
“I have been telling our kids all year that we are a good football team,” Comeaux head coach Kevin Magee said. “We have been in games like this before and always did something in the second half to screw it up. Tonight, we finally put a game together. We just have been finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. Tonight, we made fewer mistakes and that was probably the difference in the game.
“Our defense has played this well all year. We wanted to keep their offense off the field because they have some weapons. That was our game plan to try and limit their snaps. We wanted to jump on them early and if there were going to be any upsets, it is going to happen in the first round.”
Quarterback Mike Strentz led the Spartans’ rushing attack with 64 yards on 15 attempts providing the nail in the coffin with a fourth quarter touchdown, while Jordan Porter added 57 yards on 16 carries. Augustine also had two first-half interceptions for Comeaux.
Effrem Reed led the Griffins’ ground attack with 64 yards on 16 attempts catching three passes for 31 yards, while quarterback Leon Blouin added 37 yards on the ground and threw for another 101 yards on 8-of-15 passing but was picked once.
The Spartans’ defense stiffened after Blouin’s 13-yard completion to Brandon Ballard and subsequent face mask on the first play from scrimmage pushed the Griffins to near midfield. Following a punt, Aaron Davis hit Porter for no gain on the next possession’s third down forcing Comeaux to kick.
Both teams were forced into three-and-outs on their next possessions. Augustine ended the Griffins’ next series intercepting an under thrown pass from Blouin and returning it 17 yards to the Dutchtown 43. Reed’s 9-yard run opened the series before Blouin’s 12-yard gallop converted a third down to near midfield.
Strentz capped the ensuing 8-play drive with a 42-yard field goal to give Comeaux a 10-0 lead with 9:54 left to play in the first half. With a first down at the Griffin 20, Johnathan Darville dropped Dillon Williams for a 4-yard loss before John Williams hit Jacob St. Julien for a 3-yard loss to send the Spartans backwards.
Dutchtown turned to its Wildcat package on the next possession but following a 16-yard jaunt by Reed, Augustine intercepted Darville’s pass and returned it to the Griffin 47. Comeaux failed to capitalize and Dutchtown drove 56 yards on the ensuing possession to the Spartans 16 but Grant Auzene’s 32-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right. Reed’s runs of 8 and 7 yards and Blouin’s keepers for 13 and 8 yards provided the Griffins’ firepower.
A 14-yard catch and run by Reed pushed the Griffins past midfield on the opening possession of the second half after another 14-yard run but he was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-four at the Spartan 39. The next four series resulted in three-and-outs which included a 5-yard sack of Blouin by Joey Tuminello.
Jacob Magee recovered a backward lateral to give the Griffins new life at the Spartan 26 but a holding penalty sent Dutchtown backwards and Kyle Rudolph recovered Blouin’s subsequent fumble at the 46 after Kyle Rudolph sacked him for an 8-yard loss.
Landon Collins sacked Strentz for a 6-yard loss to end the ensuing series but Garrett Boudoin recovered Thaddeus Godfrey’s fumble at the Griffin 42 following a 21-yard reception over the middle from Blouin. Strentz’ keeper capped the 6-play drive which included his 20-yard option keeper to inside the 5-yard line following runs of 9 and 8 yards by Porter. Strentz’s kick gave Comeaux a 17-0 lead with 7:25 left to play.
Following two re-kicks after the ball sailed out of bounds, Shaquille Lewis returned the pigskin 32 yards to the Comeaux 41 and Blouin’s 1-yard plunge capped the ensuing 9-play drive. Eric Reid’s 20-yard reception on fourth down kept the series alive before Reed’s 12-yard catch set up the score. Auzene’s kick cut it to 17-7 with 4:55 left to play.
Comeaux recovered the onsides kick and after Strentz converted three first downs the senior took a knee to run the clock out.
“I am proud of what we accomplished,” Saia said. “A very young football team won seven games. We graduated everybody last year and nobody gave them a chance. It was a great experience for them and next year when we get back here, we will be better prepared and more focused to take it further. I am proud and appreciative of every one of these seniors. They did a great job of leading a young bunch of pups into the playoffs but it just didn’t happen for us tonight.”