“Ville Platte’s a good ball club,” said Iota Head Coach Neal Legé. “We knew coming in that we were going to have to do things right on offense.
“My hat’s off to them (Ville Platte) though, they’re a really good team. They played hard, every down. Bottom line, they executed much better than we did, offensively and defensively.”
The loss put IHS at 3-6 (2-2 in district 5-2A) on the season and moved VPHS to 6-3 (4-0) and set up next week’s championship game between Ville Platte and Oakdale.
Going into the district showdown, Iota knew it had to play sound. It had to strike early, and its offense would have to pull more than their weight Friday night, and early in the first quarter it was all going according to plan.
After trading punts, Iota began its second possession on its own 22 yard line. IHS moved the ball almost at will. Within minutes it was in Ville Platte territory. Then on third-and-nine, from the Ville Platte 30 yard line, quarterback Timothy Lunson’s pass hung in the air too long as he overshot his receiver. The two factors combined for an Iota turnover that would equate to a 14-point momentum swing that Iota looked to never be able to recover from.
Ville Platte’s Perez Thomas intercepted Lunson’s pass at the Ville Platte 12 yard line and with the help of several key blocks, returned the interception 88 yards for a touchdown. Alex Hefele’s point-after-touchdown gave the home team a seven point lead and all the energy and momentum.
“It’s been the story all year long, hasn’t it?” said Legé. “We have shot ourselves in the foot so many times this year.
Following the interception, Iota’s offense could not find any rhythm for the remainder of the first half, in part due to Ville Platte’s defense, yes, but also with Iota hurting itself.
“It’s not only a momentum killer, but a drive killer, and Ville Platte capitalized on it,” said Legé.
Iota’s five possessions after the turnover and before halftime would end in punt, ball turned over on downs, punt, punt and an expiring clock.
Ville Platte on the other hand would find the end zone again in the second quarter. Two big plays—a 26 yard pass from Isaiah Thomas to Justin Charles followed by a 25 yard run by Jermarcus Jones, quickly got VPHS into scoring range. Kendall Ardoin’s five yard reception from Isaiah Thomas capped off the drive and with Hefele’s extra point converting, Ville Platte found itself up 14 and taking care of business on both sides of the football.
While Iota searched for answers at halftime, Lunson was taken to the hospital with a back injury and concussion following a big hit on a sack by Ville Platte.
“Once we got to halftime, we adjusted, we started moving the ball well,” said Legé. “But then we beat ourselves again.
“We have a young offensive line and they have faced every defense thrown at it. It’s just tough when you’re playing a good team [like Ville Platte]. But really, the only thing that beat us was us tonight. With six seniors on the team, it’s tough.”
After halftime, Iota forced a punt and, with JT LeJeune under center, IHS looked to refocus and find not only offensive consistency, but the end zone as well.
Instead, however, another turnover re-swung momentum back into the favor of Ville Platte.
On Iota’s first drive of the second half, which began at its 20 yard line, the Bulldogs began moving the ball again. Double digit runs by Brandon Fantroy and Thomas Murrell highlighted the drive that ended prematurely at the Ville Platte 38 yard line. There, on first-and-10, LeJeune bobble the snap that came in via Iota’s third string center.
Iota would finally answer with a long drive and six points of its own (Michael Miers’ kick attempt failed), but, in the meantime, Ville Platte added two more scores both on clock-draining drives.
The first came in the third quarter. The 10 play drive took over four minutes with running back Jermarcus Jones scored from seven yards out. Then later in the quarter, Thomas hooked up with Justin Charles for a 14 yard touchdown pass in another 10 play drive. This time, however, it only took Ville Platte one minute and 36 seconds, giving VPHS a 28-0 advantage.
Still, the drive for Iota signified with IHS had set out to do all night in the first place.
Iota’s coach could point out play after play that added up against Iota, whether it was silly penalties, turnovers, almost interceptions for Iota’s defense or running backs simply running the wrong way.
“We’d have our back start running the wrong hole. We committed dumb penalties like lining up offsides on offense… I can’t blame things on one play or one call, though, because the bottom line is we didn’t play well enough to win.”
Iota’s defensive performance also left Legé scratching his head.
“We did some things tonight defensively I just don’t get,” he said. “We had a bunch of misalignments, I don’t know why, but we did.
“When Ville Platte had success tonight, we helped them gain it. Those misalignments killed us tonight.”
And while, the defense did hold Ville Platte to only 28 points when it was scoring 30-plus in recent weeks, it also gave up almost 300 yards of total offense.
On the Iota side, Fantroy led the ground attack that netted 188 yards for IHS. He finished the night with 154 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Thomas Murrell added 15 carries for 38 yards and Tyler Prejean carried twice for six. Lunson finished his night 1-for-3 with an interception and 11 yards, completing his pass to Jarrette Fontenot for his first grab of the season. LeJeune went 1-for-1 with eight yards, a pass to Fantroy.