Spartans survive Griffins in district thriller

Kyle Riviere
Kendall Washington and East Ascension improved to 5-2 with a 29-24 win over Dutchtown. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Dutchtown came into Friday night's road matchup against parish rival East Ascension looking to prove that their 6-0 start wasn't the result of a weak schedule, and for much of the game, they did.

The Griffins pushed the Spartans to the limit, taking them down to the final play. But with just one second remaining and the ball at the East Ascension 22-yard line, trailing by five, Dutchtown quarterback Brayden Fritsche's pass was picked off in the end zone.

With the turnover, the Spartans survived the district thriller, 29-24.

"First, I want to give credit to Coach [Guy] Mistretta, his staff and his team. That's a good football team over there," Spartan head coach Darnell Lee said. "Our kids had to dig deep, and we did. We made the plays when they mattered. Dutchtown never went away; they never quit. They're building a great program over there.

"In the first half, we made some big plays, some big catches. We made some big defensive stops. This was legitimately a great football game. People got their money's worth tonight."

After Logan Kern gave East Ascension an early 3-0 lead, Dylan Sampson exploded down the sideline 69 yards to give Dutchtown a 7-3 advantage late in the first quarter.

It took the Spartans less than two minutes to respond.

Cameron Jones threw a pass over the middle for Steven McBride. McBride snagged the ball with one hand and raced to the end zone for a 57-yard score to give East Ascension a 9-7 lead heading to the second.

The Spartans dominated the rest of the half. Jones hooked up with Hobert Grayson for scores of 14 and 12 yards to extend the lead to 23-7 at the break.

Dutchtown began the third quarter with a 12-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard Cohen Parent field goal to cut the deficit to 23-10.

To begin the fourth quarter, the Griffin defense turned East Ascension over on downs and quickly moved into Spartan territory.

Sampson then broke loose up the middle for a 28-yard score to get within 23-17.

However, East Ascension answered with an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, which was led by backup quarterback Kullen Wheat. Jones had to leave the game after being sidelined with an injury.

"He hurt his shoulder in the first quarter and toughed it out. That break at halftime was a little too much. He went cold," Lee said.

Wheat led the Spartans downfield and completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to McBride to give East Ascension a 29-17 lead.

"Kullen Wheat is the same guy every time. He's always poised," Lee said. "He's the same way in JV games and in practice. He came in ice cold and threw a dart to Steven McBride in the end zone. I'm proud of the way he stepped up."

But Dutchtown answered back almost immediately.

On the first play of their ensuing possession, Fritsche hit Jadyn McKinney for a 68-yard score to cut the deficit to 29-24.

The Griffins then stopped East Ascension and got the ball back at their own 34-yard line with just under two minutes remaining.

After a big loss on first down, Dutchtown was eventually faced with a fourth-and-25. They converted it with a 31-yard connection from Fritsche to Sampson.

Fritsche later hit Logan Scott for 15 yards, and a pass interference call on the Spartans gave Dutchtown the ball at the Spartan 22 with one second remaining.

Fritsche's heave to the end zone on the final play was picked off by Kael Babin.

In the loss, Sampson had a huge game, rushing for 173 yards and two scores on just 13 carries.

Before Jones was hurt, he went 12-19 for 223 yards and three touchdowns. McBride finished with six catches for 102 yards and two scores.

On the ground, Ethan Bagwell carried the ball 17 times for 118 yards.

"We didn't abandon the run game. Our kids up front did a great job," Lee said. "Dutchtown made some plays. It was just a great game to watch and great game to be a part of."

Going against a Dutchtown defense that gave up just five points a game in their six wins, East Ascension put up 440 yards and 29 points.