Dutchtown may have let the District 5-5A championship slip away last Friday night, but they weren't about to take in the same bitter taste two weeks in a row.
The Griffins used stingy defense and an array of big plays in the third quarter to pull away from parish and district rival St. Amant 20-10 to open the playoffs.
"I think our offensive line really battled in there tonight and did some good things. It was just a total team effort, and I'm just as happy as can be that we get to play another week," Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said.
Friday night's game closely resembled the Griffins' 31-17 regular season win over the Gators. It was hard-hitting and physical, and it took a big third-quarter surge for the Griffins to collect the win.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Dutchtown offense finally got things going when Torrance Mosley broke loose on a 38-yard run into St. Amant territory. The scamper set up a 33-yard field goal by Tyler Sarrazin to give the Griffins a 3-0 lead.
After St. Amant fumbled an exchange on their ensuing drive, Dutchtown cashed it in with a 23-yard Sarrazin field goal, and the lead was extended to 6-0.
Facing the deficit, the Gators finally got a spark offensively through a little trickery. Jamal Vaughn got a handoff, pulled up and launched a pass downfield to a wide-open Ryan Cardinale for 38 yards.
The gamble paid off with a 20-yard Trey Belleu field goal right before the half to cut Dutchtown's lead to 6-3.
However, the kickers' duel would vanish almost immediately into the third quarter courtesy of Mosley.
On the second play of the second half, Mosley exploded up the middle and broke down the sideline where he scooted away from all Gator defenders for a 76-yard touchdown.
The long score gave the Griffins their biggest lead of the game at 13-3, but St. Amant didn't blink.
They got the ball back and promptly drove downfield. And when Beau Nickel hit Cardinale in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard score, the Gators cut the lead down to 13-10.
That's when Mason Nickens—who had been battling sickness all week—came through with another big play for the Griffins that put the game away.
Nickens went back to pass, made a free rusher miss and lofted a perfect pass downfield to Shelby Christy for a 51-yard touchdown that put Dutchtown up 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
That 10-point lead was all the separation the Griffins needed. With a Chris Collins fourth-quarter interception and hard running by Antoine Magras, Dutchtown was able to hang on and win their first playoff game in two years.
Mosley led the way for the Griffins as he carried the ball 12 times for 136 yards and a score.
St. Amant's Trey Washington gave a valiant effort in the loss. He had a blue-collar performance that culminated in 29 carries for 124 yards.
That kind of output was just one of the strong efforts that made the Gators' season so successful. Despite the loss, they have much to be proud of. They were able to win seven games and make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
"I'm very proud of them. I think we got back to respectability this year, and I think we took a step in the right direction," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said.
Though their season comes to an end, the Griffins' dream of playing in the Superdome is still alive.
With Friday night's win, they now advance to the second round where they'll make a roadtrip to Metairie to play top-ranked and undefeated Archbishop Rummel.
Saia is optimistic. He's happy with how is team is coming together at the best possible time.
"I think we're coming together as a team and coming together as a family, and that's what you want at this time of year," Saia said. "Our senior leadership is starting to show, and I just want to take it as far as we can."