FOOTBALL

Mistakes plague Griffins in game-one loss

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Dutchtown running back Charles Davis is brought down hard by the Lutcher defense. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

Dutchtown's 2015 football season began the same way it did in 2014: with a disappointing home loss to Lutcher.

Just like last year, the Bulldogs took advantage of costly Griffin mistakes. They were able to overcome a 12-0 halftime deficit, and with just over three minutes left in the game, they were good on a two-point conversion that proved to be the game-winner in a 20-19 victory.

"They had the ball almost the whole second half. The fake punt, this, that--that's what we wanted to do, but they did it to us," Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. "We had our chances. We made a ton of mistakes. We blew some assignments, and they're a very good football team. You can't do those things against a very good football team."

The game was a defensive slugfest until late in the second quarter.

After a Jontre Kirklin punt hit the back of his own up-man's head, the Griffins started a drive at the Lutcher 46.

Just three plays later, Fitell Bolding took a handoff, broke a tackle and raced down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown to give Dutchtown a 6-0 lead.

Later, Dutchtown quickly moved 68 yards downfield in just six plays and finished off the drive when quarterback Jared Sparks scored on a 13-yard option-keeper.

After the Griffins failed to convert the two-point try, they led 12-0 at the break.

Lutcher took the ball to start the second half, and they started to wear out the Dutchtown defense with huge third-down conversions.

They converted two on their opening drive--including a third and 16 where Kirklin found a wide open receiver for 53 yards.

Eventually, Kirklin scored on a three-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal to cut the deficit to 12-6.

On their next drive, Lutcher went on a 12-play, 47-yard scoring drive.

They converted a fourth down when Kirklin scrambled for 10 yards on a fake punt.

After converting another fourth down, Kirklin scored on a three-yard touchdown run to tie the game late in the third quarter.

Dutchtown did a great job responding.

They drove 68 yards on seven plays and finished things off when Sparks hit Cornelius Washington for a 42-yard touchdown on a slant. It gave the Griffins a 19-12 advantage.

Dutchtown squandered two huge opportunities down the stretch that would have allowed them to close out the game.

After a Diondre Brock interception, the Griffins fumbled the ball away five plays later.

David Cooper then came up with a big interception in the end zone, but he was stripped of the ball during the return--allowing Lutcher to get the ball right back at the Griffin 11-yard line.

It ended up being a devastating mistake as Kirklin scored on a six-yard run two plays later.

The Bulldogs then went for two to take the lead. Kirklin faked the run up the middle and hit Dylan Recotta on the jump-pass that Tim Tebow perfected at Florida.

Trailing 20-19 with just over three minutes left to play, the Griffins went on a promising drive that put them at the Lutcher 25-yard line.

However, Sparks was sacked for a big loss, and on third and 16, Sparks was forced to scramble. After a positive gain, he was stripped of the ball. The Bulldogs recovered and were able to bleed the clock to capture the huge victory.

"I told them that this is over. There isn't a damn thing we can do about this. We have to get after it, get better and get ready for next week," Saia said. "We're a good football team. There are some things that we definitely need to clean up, but if we let one week ruin nine more weeks, then we're not very strong mentally. We have to get back to what we do and hope for a better result next week."

The game wasn't just close on the scoreboard. Lutcher edged out Dutchtown 282-281 in total yards.

The Bulldogs put the clamps down on the explosive Sparks. He was only able to complete four of 11 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he was held to 24 yards and a score on 14 carries.

Bolding was the catalyst for the Griffin offense as he picked up 122 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Even with the loss, Saia said he was happy with how his defense played.

"They're explosive. They have some great receivers and a great quarterback, and I think our defense played well," Saia said. "They bent, bent, but they didn't break. We forced some turnovers and shut them out for a half of football."