“We played like we did in weeks one and two tonight,” said Neal Legé, head coach of the Iota Bulldogs, “that was the whole thing. It wasn’t the officials, we beat ourselves tonight. If we take care of our business, Oakdale doesn’t beat us. It hurts more, that’s what we did.
“It’s just frustrating that we took a step back tonight. I thought we had a great week of practice. We just came out playing sloppy on offense and sloppy on defense. Normally those things will get you beat and it did.”
With 8:47 remaining in the third quarter, the Iota Bulldogs went ahead of two touchdowns on the Oakdale Warriors. With 2:48 left in the fourth quarter, it was the Bulldogs down two scores.
That would prove to be the lead that would be too much for Iota as they fell to the Warriors 41-35 Friday night.
The loss saw Iota fall to 2-5 (1-1 in district 5-2A); Oakdale improved to 2-5 (2-0).
The first quarter proved to be the tell-tale sign that things were not going the Bulldogs’ way Friday as Iota reverted back to early season form and beat itself with fumbles and a couple of penalties.
“It’s almost like we weren’t here yet; like we were still on the bus,” said Legé.
Still, Oakdale only scored once in the first quarter courtesy a 47-yard pass from Reginald Philson to Aaron Rogers with 5:10 remaining. It was quick work, in a relatively quiet first quarter.
In the second quarter, however, Iota scored 23 points with big plays on both sides of the ball.
First, Iota capped off a 79-yard drive that began late in the first quarter. Brandon Fantroy scored from three yards out, and a Michael Miers point after touchdown tied the ball game. The 17-play drive was long and methodical and just what Iota seemed to need to wake up.
The Bulldogs quickly followed the touchdown with a safety. Then, the free kick was followed by a one-play, 51-yard drive, at the hands, feet and tackle-breaking ability of Fantroy.
Suddenly, the once down Bulldogs were up 15-7 and there was still 5:56 remaining in the second quarter.
It didn’t take long for Oakdale to answer though. One minute and 25 seconds later, the Warriors capped off a 63-yard drive with a one-yard run by Kourtlyn Monette. Backup quarterback Mason Jordan’s pass to Philson tied the game back up at 15.
“We let them score an easy one,” said Legé. “We tried to sub some guys in and give our older guys a break and they took advantage.”
“But that’s the thing. When we sub like that, the other guys have to do their job, bottom line.”
Still, Iota returned the favor in the second quarter, and, with 1:17 remaining until the half, Fantroy’s eight yard run and run conversion would give the Bulldogs an eight-point halftime advantage.
“We came back strong (in the second quarter) and played hard,” said Legé.
To begin the third quarter, Iota would go up by 14 points with Thomas Murrell scoring from one yard out with one yard out with 8:47 remaining in the quarter.
But, on back-to-back possessions, the Warriors and drew within one point. First came the 11-yard run by Philson with 5:18 left in the quarter. That was followed by another 47-yard connection from Philson to Rogers with 28.8 seconds left. Adams’ booted the first PAT, but had his second one blocked, allowing Iota to keep the lead.
And when the Bulldogs needed it least, the fumble problems started again in the fourth quarter with each of its quarterbacks—Timothy Lunson and JT LeJeune—bobbling snaps and giving Oakdale short fields of 33 and 39, yards respectively, which the Warriors did not waste.
“You can’t come out and put the ball on the ground drive after drive,” said Legé.
First, Oakdale scored with Philson connecting with Monette from five yards out. Then Philson would score from four yards out with 2:48 remaining in the game.
Down 12, Iota got the ball back on its 38 yard line. LeJeune would more than make up for his fumble on the previous drive by leading the Bulldogs on a quick touchdown drive. It took Iota four plays and only 34 seconds, and Fantroy pulled in 37-yard pass from LeJeune to pull Iota to within six points.
There was still life for Iota that was recognized even more after the Bulldogs defense forced a Warriors three-and-out. Iota would get the ball back with 1:51 remaining at its 17 yard line.
“We played hard at the end and we had a chance to win it,” said Legé.
That’s where the chaos entered. The final drive saw the Bulldogs get to the Warriors six yard line before time ran out, but featured Timothy Lunson completing four passes of the six he attempted on the drive to three different receivers, three penalties, a minimum of three game clock resets and confusion on whether Iota had one more play before the clock expired. Combined it left the Bulldogs without one final shot to tie the game or win it and both sets of fans disgruntled and confused.
“Even though we had one more play and they didn’t let us snap the ball, that’s one play, and it should have never came down to that,” said Legé.
Still, Iota now has to turn the page quickly as it’s a short week for the Bulldogs and now a crucial one. They will host Pine Prairie on Thursday night in a must-win if Iota still wants a shot at the district crown.
“We’ll get ready and go back to work, it’s all we can do,” said Legé, “but our backs are against the wall right now. We can’t play the rest of district the way we played tonight or we’re done.”
Philson’s big night was, as Legé put it was what the Bulldogs were “concerned with” and with good reason. The junior picked up 42 yards on 19 carries, and threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns, finishing the night 9-of-16 in the air. Monette, also had a successful outing picking up 110 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and one five yard catch for a touchdown. Rogers’ led the way receiving with two grabs for 94 yards, both 47 yard touchdown receptions.
The Warriors finished with 353 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, Iota finished the night with 413 yards of total offense, led by Fantroy’s best night of the season, 28 carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns and two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Murrell added 13 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground and an 11-yard reception. LeJeune finished his night 1-for-2 with 37 yards and a touchdown and Lunson went 4-for-8 for 55 yards in the air and five eight carries for 27 yards on the ground.