It made huge strides, but just not enough as two big mistakes on special teams proved costly in Iota’s 28-16 loss to the St. Edmund Blue Jays.
The game gave the Blue Jays its first win (1-1) of the season, while Iota fell to 0-2.
As Bulldogs Coach Neal Legé was quick to point out, Iota …
“I thought we played hard for all four quarters against a spread offense,” he said. “I was pleased with that.
“It just wasn’t enough tonight.”
St. Edmund won the game by capitalizing on gifted short fields, and those would prove to be the difference in the game.
In the first quarter, a stalled Iota drive would end with the ball turning over on downs after a bad snap on the punt attempt. The ball moved 25 yards in favor of the Blue Jays and gave them a first down at the Iota 18 yard line. Five plays later, St. Edmund was dealing Drew Brown a four yard pass for a touchdown. The drive took only two minutes and eight seconds and the Blue Jays took a 6-0 lead.
In the third quarter, the Blue Jays opened the game up. A blocked punt early in the third quarter led to another quick six points for St. Edmund and swung momentum solely to their side.
“The blocked punt, I think really swung the momentum in their favor because our defense was playing pretty good until then,” said Legé.
The two yard run from Pitre capped off a nine play, nine yard drive that took only one minute and nine seconds off of the clock leading to a Blue Jays 20-6 lead.
Before that score, however, things looked very different.
In the second quarter, St. Edmund would add another six points. The 85 yard drive took 14 plays and took almost three minutes as it started late in the first quarter and ended early in the first.
Facing a 12-0 deficit did not discourage Iota, though as it came battling back. The next series was an offensive showcase for the Bulldogs, traveling 75 yards in eight plays in three minutes and 20 seconds. Capping off the drive that featured four of the Bulldogs’ offensive weapons was a 24 yard pass from quarterback J.T. LeJeune to Brandon Fantroy. LeJeune would connect with Thomas Murrell to convert the pass attempt for two points, drawing Iota to within four points.
The drive was highlighted by the 24 yard pass and a 13 yard pass in the LeJeune-to-Fantroy connection as well as a pair of 11 yard plays from Murrell and Kyle Smith.
“We go into half close, but they came back and got a quick score,” said Legé. “Then they start putting some distance between us and we were left to play catch up after that and we just ran out of time.”
The Blue Jays added their final score of the night in the third quarter thanks to a 10-yard pass from Pitre to Brown. The 62 yard, seven play drive was highlighted also by a 22 yard run by Pitre and 30 yard pass from Pitre to Andrew Hunt.
The Bulldogs would go down swinging as it would pick up an additional eight points in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Timothy Lunson would come in late in the fourth as LeJeune appeared to suffer a minor leg injury. Lunson would make the most of the opportunity, however, and score from a yard out.
The 13 play drive was the Fantroy, Murrell and Michael Thevis running attack show with Murrell’s 11 yard run and two St. Edmund penalties greatly aided Iota.
Moving forward, according to Legé, the Bulldogs will have to continue to improve and find some offensive consistency.
“We just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to on offense tonight ,” he said
Iota’s running back by committee night saw Fantroy (14 carries for 31 yards) and Murrell (11 carries for 46 yards) split the night as co-offensive leaders. Thevis added 11 yards on six carries and Lunson added a yard, a touchdown on one carry to the cause.
In the passing game, LeJeune finished the night with 78 yards and a touchdown after completing six of his 15 passes. He also had an interception on a tipped pass.
Receiving LeJeune’s six passes were Fantroy (five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown) and Smith (one catch for 11 yards).
On the other side, St. Edmund had 261 yards of offense, 113 on the ground, 148 in the air.
Leading the laundry list of rushers for St. Edmund was Pitre with 60 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, Austin LaFleur with 15 yards on four carries, Drew Brown with 13 yards on four carries and Christian Walker with 12 yards on three carries.
In the air, Pitre added 141 yards and three touchdowns after completing nine of his 22 attempts; backup quarterback Brown added seven yards by completing one of his five attempts.
Leading the Blue Jays in receptions were Brown (four receptions for 44 yards and two touchdowns), Chase Dupre (three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown) and a 30 yard grab by Andrew Hunt and a 20 yards grab by Drake Brunet.
For Iota, the game of what could have been must now be put behind them as there will be no rest for the weary.
“I was pleased with the effort,” said Legé. “Now we have to go back to square one and correct our mistakes. We have some guys who really played well tonight and we have some guys who we will get back next week.
“Right now we are thinking too much instead of just reacting, but we’re getting there and we’ll get it.”