Griffins topple Spartans for third straight victory
Last season, Dutchtown lost to East Ascension for the first time in over a decade. It wasn't happening this year.
The Griffins used dominating defense and a kickoff return for a touchdown by Coney Durr to avenge last season's loss, 24-14.
"Our kids lost last year, and they didn't like it. They came out here with a purpose," Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. "Make no mistake about it, [East Ascension's] a good football team. It was a physical, hard-hitting football game, and we're very happy to get the win."
A big play on special teams helped the Griffins take the contest's first lead.
East Ascension took the opening possession and drove the ball past midfield, but the Dutchtown defense forced them to punt.
The Spartans opted for the fake. Up-man Josh Bates caught the direct snap and tried to reach the first-down marker, but he was stuffed--allowing the Griffins to take over at their own 34-yard line.
Just three plays later, Dutchtown quarterback Jared Sparks threw a beautiful pass to Cornelius Washington, hitting him in stride for a 54-yard score to give the Griffins the early 7-0 lead.
East Ascension responded, but not with their offense. It was their defense that came through a huge momentum-shifting play.
Starting a drive from their own 5-yard line, Sparks was sacked and stripped. Spartan defensive end Justin Harris recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game up at 7.
The East Ascension offense then stepped up as quarterback Kyran Irvin hit a wide open LaMarcus Jefferson for a 52-yard score to give the Spartans the 14-7 lead.
With everything going East Ascension's way, Durr stepped up and made the biggest play of the game.
He gathered in the ensuing kickoff and exploded for 90 yards untouched. The touchdown tied the game and put all the momentum back into the hands of the Griffins.
With the contest tied late in the second quarter, Irvin took a huge shot from Dutchtown defensive back Rickey Thomas.
The hit proved to be devastating. Not only did it cause a fumble that the Griffins recovered at the Spartan 12-yard line, but the shot also knocked Irvin out of the game with a concussion.
East Ascension's defense stiffened and forced Christian Carrillo to hit a 28-yard field goal to give Dutchtown a 17-14 halftime lead.
The Griffins took control of the contest at the start of the third quarter.
On their opening drive, they marched 67 yards in 10 plays and took the biggest lead of the game with a five-yard touchdown run by Sparks.
"That's what I thought helped us seal the game," Saia said. "We ate about seven or eight minutes off of the clock. In the first half, their defense didn't have to play. Our defense was on the field the entire first half. One of our touchdowns was a return, so they go from defense back to defense without any rest in between, so that was huge."
With Irvin knocked out, backup quarterback Keenen Dunn had to step in, but he and the Spartan offense could never consistently move the ball against the stout Griffin defense.
One promising drive was ended by a spectacular play by Durr as he stormed the East Ascension backfield to cause a fumble and then recover it.
Finally, the game was ended by an interception by Thomas.
The Spartans actually out-gained Dutchtown, 271-241, but they could only muster 7 offensive points.
After going for 174 yards against St. Amant the week before, Bates was held to 65 yards on 13 carries.
Jefferson led all receivers with five catches for 101 yards and a score.
Filling in for Irvin, Dunn went 8-15 for 84 yards with one interception. He added 38 yards on the ground.
"When you only have a backup, and you practice him as a backup all week, you don't have any continuity," East Ascension head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "You don't have the same game plan as you would have if your starting quarterback was in there."
With the loss, East Ascension dropped to 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the district.
They'll get a great chance to even that league record this Friday night as they host 3-5 McKinley.
"It's gonna be on them at this point," Bourgeois said. "They got themselves ready for St. Amant. We didn't have the week we had for St. Amant; we had a little drop-off. They have to make a decision on whether or not we're going to win the last two."
In the victory over East Ascension, Sparks went 10-15 for 128 yards and a score, while adding 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Fitell Bolding led the rushing attack as he picked up 75 hard-earned yards on 23 carries.
Dutchtown has now won three straight to improve to 6-2 overall and an undefeated 3-0 in district play.
They have a huge challenge coming their way this Friday night as they hit the road to face surging Catholic in a de-facto district title game.
"What I really like about this team is that they're a team. They like each other, they play together, they have a common goal and they're working for it," Saia said. "When you have that, you have a chance. They're a fun group to be around. We just have to keep chugging and go one game at a time. Dutchtown hasn't been 4-6 very often. These kids wanted to right the ship, and so far, so good."
To view a photo gallery of this game, log on to weeklycitizen.com on Oct. 30, for Photo Friday.