The Griffins flex their muscles
Sixth-ranked Dutchtown used a 21-point third-quarter explosion to hand No. 12 St. Amant their first loss of the year on Friday night.
The game was hotly-contested and deadlocked at 10-10 going into the half, but two Gator turnovers aided the third-quarter charge for the Griffins as they pulled away 31-17.
"Our guys just have a little something inside of them, and I'm real proud of them," Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. "They came out and played a great football game. St. Amant is a great team, and this was just a good high school football game."
That was certainly true early on. The Griffins put together a 10-play, 67-yard drive to draw first blood.
Mason Nickens did much of the work on the ground as he broke loose on 14 and 22-yard runs to put Dutchtown into scoring position. And then, he finished the drive off when he scored from one yard out on a quarterback sneak.
The physical Griffin drive didn't intimidate the undefeated Gators. They responded with a bruising 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive of their own.
Backup quarterback Tyler Dixon launched a pass that barely cleared the hands of a Griffin defender and connected with Ryan Cardinale for a 16-yard touchdown.
With St. Amant tying the game, the Gator offense got back to work. They marched downfield again and took their first lead with 4:24 remaining in the half with a 30-yard field goal by Trey Belleu.
When Dutchtown got the ball back, it appeared they were just going to let the clock run out, but Nickens willed the Griffins downfield.
He routinely avoided pass-rushers and scrambled for key first downs. And after two critical St. Amant penalties, Tyler Sarrazin was able to come in and nail a 33-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 at halftime.
The Griffins rode the momentum of the score to start the second half. They methodically drove 71 yards and regained the lead when Austen Brown shot right up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown.
With the 17-10 lead, Dutchtown's opportunistic defense helped them seize complete control.
St. Amant fumbled the ball on their first possession of the second half after a bad exchange.
Just four plays later, on fourth and inches, Torrance Mosley got a handoff and exploded untouched for a 40-yard touchdown. It gave the Griffins the biggest lead of the game at 24-10.
And to break the game wide open, Tevin Reed picked off Beau Nickel on the Gators' ensuing drive and sprinted down the sideline for a score. The pick-six concluded a 21-point third-quarter flurry for the Griffins and gave them a commanding 31-10 lead.
"It was 10-10 at halftime, and we came out and made two huge errors, and they got points off of both of them," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. "They didn't turn the ball over all night. They didn't make many mistakes, and we made those two. It's hard to recover from that when you're playing such a good football team."
The Gators never did recover. Though they got a late touchdown run by Cody Raffray, the deficit was far too big to overcome.
Dutchtown salted away their fourth win of the year as St. Amant fell to 4-1.
Nickens was huge for the Griffins all night. He only completed six of eight passes for 54 yards, but he carried Dutchtown on the ground. He touted the rock 17 times for 122 hard-earned yards and a score.
The Griffin defense held up their end of the bargain as they held the Gators' stud tailback Trey Washington to 78 yards on 17 carried.
The loss stings, but St. Amant will have to get over it quickly heading into the rest of their district schedule.
"We have a good Woodlawn team coming up that has not had a lot of success this year, but they still have a lot of talent," Oliver said. "We're going to have to come out and rebound and get back on track again, and that's what football's all about."
As for Dutchtown, the win keeps them at No. 6 in the rankings and gives them a key victory to open the district tilt. However, Saia knows his team can't bask in the euphoria of the win over St. Amant for very long.
"If they want to be 5-1, they better get over it pretty quick. We're playing another good team next week that's gonna be hungry for a win," Saia said.
That team will be parish rival East Ascension. Dutchtown beat the Spartans 17-6 in their Aug. 24 jamboree.