Making a stand
There was one yard separating East Ascension from victory Friday night, and Dutchtown made sure the Spartans didn't cross it.
The sixth-ranked Griffins stood tall and valiantly made a goal-line stand to seal a 20-14 win over a hungry East Ascension squad.
"I keep saying, there's something special inside of this group," Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. "I think we have character, and they showed that down there at the 1-yard line. It came down to one play, and our guys made it."
Saia knew his 4-1 Griffins would get the 3-3 Spartans' best effort as they tried to end their six-game losing streak to Dutchtown.
Even when East Ascension fell down 10-0 early, they kept coming.
"I think facing a team—especially with the reputation of Dutchtown—we could have lay down and thought, 'oh my goodness; here we go again,' but I felt on the sideline that it didn't put any fear into them at all," Spartan head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "And that is a great feeling about the maturity of our team and about how far we've come."
The 10-point deficit marked a portion of the game where the Griffins dominated.
They got out of the gates quickly when Mason Nickens hooked up with Shelby Christy for 44 yards to set up a 32-yard Tyler Sarrazin field goal.
Not long afterward, the Griffins grabbed a 10-0 advantage when Torrance Mosley caught a punt off of a hop and dashed up the middle for a 71-yard touchdown.
With the double-digit lead, Dutchtown's dominance continued into the second quarter as they drove down to the East Ascension 8-yard line. It looked like they were well on their way to a 17-0 lead, but a fumble turned the whole game around.
Nickens lost the ball as he was drug down by a Spartan defender, and East Ascension recovered it at their 11-yard line. The turnover not only took away sure points for Dutchtown, but it got the raucous Spartan crowd back into the game and ignited East Ascension's offense.
They put together a beautiful drive that spanned 89 yards and ended it all with a nifty three-yard touchdown run by Sione Palelei.
The Griffin lead remained until late in the third quarter when Nickens was picked off by Tyler Green, and he returned it to the Dutchtown 30-yard line.
The Griffins did their best to respond—forcing the Spartans into fourth and goal at the 1-yard line. However, East Ascension grabbed a 14-10 lead heading into the fourth when Palelei powered through for the touchdown.
Facing their first deficit of the game, the stagnant Dutchtown offense finally caught fire when Corey McBride got the ball on a reverse. The burner cut it up, broke a couple of tackles and ran away from everyone for an 85-yard touchdown to regain the lead for the Griffins at 17-14.
Their defense then stepped up as Justin Sampson picked off Layne Trahan on the Spartans' ensuing possession. It set up a 24-yard Sarrazin field goal that extended the Dutchtown lead to 20-14.
With their backs against the wall, East Ascension put together an inspired drive that set them up with a fourth and goal at the Griffin 1-yard line.
Michael Sparrow got a handoff and tried his best to get into the end zone, but the Dutchtown defense was all over him. They stood tall and absolutely stuffed him for no gain.
The stop turned the ball over on downs and sealed the 20-14 win for the Griffins.
The Dutchtown defense was solid all night—holding the Spartans to 252 total yards. They slowed down Palelei as he could only muster 77 yards on 23 carries.
The East Ascension "D" looked good as well as they held the Griffins to 287 total yards and yielded only 102 passing yards and 25 rushing yards to Nickens.
It's another heart-wrenching defeat for the Spartans as they fall to 1-1 in the district and 3-4 overall. Bourgeois knows it'll be hard for his team to get over the loss, but they'll have to do so to salvage the season. A road game against 4-2 Catholic awaits.
"When you face next week and face Catholic, it's a tough deal," Bourgeois said. "You push and you push for a game like this and then it comes out like that, how are you gonna turn around and push again? But that's what we're gonna need. That's the profession."
Saia was looking ahead as well. After the game, he told his team, "I want you to be proud of what you did here tonight, but I don't want you to be satisfied."
The now 5-1 and fifth-ranked Griffins will try to stay hungry this week against a winless Woodlawn team on the road.