The Gents, who opened the year with an upset of state-ranked Patterson, saw their losing streak reach five games Friday, falling to Iowa, 14-6, in the District 4-3A opener for both teams.
The loss left the Gents at 1-5 overall and put their postseason hopes in serious jeopardy with just four regular-season games to play.
“You’ve got to win to get in (the playoffs) now,” said Gents’ head coach Josh Fontenot. “We’re in playoff mode now.
“If we want to play in the postseason, we’ve got to win the rest of them. There’s no if, ands or buts, we have to.”
It appeared that the Gents were going to snap their streak Friday when they marched 57 yards on seven plays and scored on a 22-yard pass from Andre Mills to Chanz Moore on the opening series of the game.
Unfortunately, that was the only time the Gents found the end zone the entire night.
The Gents, in fact, picked up the bulk of their 260 total yards of offense on their first and last drives of the game.
“We’re just not playing well offensively,” said Fontenot. “When you hold a team (Iowa) that averages 49 points a game to 14, you should win the game.
“We’re not playing good offensively and we’re all taking our turns. We’re blowing assignments and not having good plays. It’s obvious and it’s evident and maybe it’s time for some personnel changes.”
The Gents began the game clicking on all cylinders on the opening drive when Mills hit Moore twice for 39 yards and Danny Malbrough broke off an 11-yard run.
But following that series, the Gents gained just 57 more yards and two first downs and were forced to punt six times before the end of the half.
“They (Iowa) stepped it up and made the plays when they had to and we didn’t,” said Fontenot. “Never, ever, did we take our opportunities to make good plays. When they were there, we didn’t come through with them.
“It’s just inconsistent play on offense and that’s killing us right now.”
Iowa posted the go-ahead score midway through the second quarter following a 30-yard pass from Austin Theriot to DeQuan Matthews.
Fullback D’Juan Rigmaiden took over from there, barreling through the heart of the Gents’ defense for runs of 8 and 15 yards before scoring on a 3-yard scamper. Rigmaiden also got the call on the 2-point conversion and pounded it in for an 8-6 Iowa lead.
“They kept running the trap and we just weren’t able to stop it consistently enough,” said Fontenot. “When you take away a lot of the other things that they were doing, you’re going to give up some things and that was one of them. At times we stopped it and at times we didn’t. They were able to run it well and they hurt us with it.”
Iowa added to its lead early in the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets marched 85 yards, mainly on the legs of Theriot who picked up 58 yards on five carries and capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown scamper.
The Gents were able to stop running back Chaz Key on the 2-point conversion run and trailed 14-6 with 9:25 remaining in the contest.
The Gents looked to answer after starting at their own 15-yard line when Mills hit Thomas Cavell on a 14-yard pass and after a holding penalty on the Gents, the senior quarterback broke a 27-yard run to the IHS 46.
Mills and Danny Malbrough brought the Gents down to the 15 on four straight runs where the Gents turned the ball over on downs.
“It’s just the same story over and over again,” said Fontenot of his team’s struggles in the red zone. “We’re second-and-4 and we miss a block. Now we’re third-and -10. Then you scramble around and get a little bit.
“That’s been the theme of what we’ve been on offense since the first game of the season. We move it and we move it and then we just blow up.”
Fontenot said the mistakes are shared by everyone.
“Everybody is taking their turn,” he said. “If you really want to point a finger, point it at me. I’m the one calling the plays. I’ll take full responsibility. But we’re going to go fix it. That’s all we can do.”
The Gents had one last opportunity to at least tie the game when they took over deep in their own territory with just over two minutes to go.
Three straight passes to Cavall, Danny Malbrough and Damon Malbrough netted 43 yards and got the Gents within striking distance. But three runs for eight yards and an incompletion on fourth down saw yet another Crowley drive stall out.
Penalties also hindered the Gents as they were flagged six times for 65 yards, a number of them on holding calls that negated big runs.
“When you’re struggling to block people up front, sometimes you’re going to hold them and the same thing on the perimeter,” said Fontenot. “We’ve got to cut that out. We had a stupid personal foul that hurt us and we’ll handle that. But effort penalties, I can’t get on our kids for that.”
Overall, the Gents totaled 260 yards of offense.
Mills led the ground attack with 21 carries for 98 yards while Danny Malbrough had 73 yards on 18 carries.
Mills also connected on 11 of 20 pass attempts for 88 yards and a touchdown. He hit Moore four times for 49 yards and Cavell twice for 25. Damon Malbrough had two receptions for 16 yards and Danny Malbrough had one catch for 11 yards.
Defensively, the Gents held Iowa’s potent offense to just 298 yards on the night, 116 shy of the Jackets’ season average.
Theriot picked up 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He also completed four passes for 48 yards.
Rigmaiden added 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries while Matthews was the Yellow Jackets’ leading receiver with two catches for 34 yards.
“Our defense, I’m proud of,” said Fontenot. “They played their hearts out.
“The boys never quit and that’s all good. But they’re getting tired of hearing that and I’m getting tired of saying it. It’s time for us to win and time for us to pull through. That’s not happening right now and it’s tough.”