The Bulldogs improved to 1-4 while dropping the Oberlin Tigers to 2-3 on the season with a 16-12 victory Friday night.
“We have a happy group of guys,” said Iota Head Coach Neal Legé. “We finally didn’t beat ourselves. We had no punts blocked. We had no fumbles. We had no interceptions. We played good defense and we got a couple of turnovers ourselves.
“It’s nice to get a big win before district and it gives us a little momentum going in.”
Legé said last week that one play did not lose the game for them against South Beauregard, pointing to penalties, fumbles and other mistakes that had made the first four weeks of the season turn out bad.
Those mistakes seem to stay on the road, or at the very least, disappeared with the rain Friday night at kickoff time.
Bulldog fans had to be feeling déjà vu after the first quarter. The offense had three straight three-and-outs and the offense could not find consistency. Meanwhile, Oberlin found a groove and kept rolling.
Its first drive netted the Tigers six points on two plays, a 47-yard connection between quarterback Mark Fontenot and skill player Austin Darbonne, a name heard often in Bulldog Stadium, and a four-yard run-in from Trace Joubert with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Jordan Wilson’s two-point conversion run was snuffed, however.
On its next possession, Oberlin would again light up the scoreboard. The three minute, 16 second drive saw the ball move 56 yards in seven plays. Darbonne picked up his touchdown on a four yard run with over four-and-a-half minutes remaining. Darbonne’s 35 yard run to start the drive highlighted and set the tone for the Tigers as well. But again, the Tigers could not convert a two-point PAT, leaving the score at 12-0.
For many games it was a sign of how things were going to go in the game, but not this time, not with these Bulldogs. Things were going great for Oberlin, until Iota got its footing. Suddenly, the Bulldogs were not only keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, but finding the end zone themselves.
In an 11-play drive that took four minutes and 32 seconds off the clock, the Bulldogs punched in a four yard touchdown run of its own with Thomas Murrell. The drive saw Murrell and Brandon Fantroy just about alternating touches, even when it came down to scoring. Murrell’s touchdown with 4:35 remaining in the half drew the Dogs to within six points, but Fantroy added points of his own, running in for the two-point conversion.
The score would remain 12-8 in favor of the visiting Tigers at the half.
The Bulldogs were in perfect position entering the second half only down four points, but it would need its defense to find some sort of response for Oberlin’s running back core, particularly Darbonne, which was not an easy task.
“They came out strong in the first quarter,” said Legé, “but we made good adjustments at halftime and it paid off in the second half.
“Oberlin has a solid ball club. They have athletes all over the place. That was our biggest fear, having one of their guys get loose on us, and we were able to control it for the most part tonight. I’m very pleased with that.”
It would also need its offense to once again drive the field and score a go-ahead touchdown.
Iota got everything it needed and more. The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out of their own to start the half and drove 80 yards in a game-defining drive.
When Iota got the ball back on its 20-yard-line with nine minutes and 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter, it showed its intensity and spent no time getting its feet wet once again. The seven play drive saw Fantroy shine with a 21 yard run and a 35 yard reception from Timothy Lunson. Not surprisingly, it was Fantroy’s turn to pick up the touchdown, a five yard running score with seven minutes remaining. He would also run in the two-point conversion attempt, pulling the Bulldogs ahead by a score of 16-12.
“Brandon ran his butt off tonight,” said Legé. “He and Thomas both had some big runs and the offensive line got the job done tonight.”
The Bulldogs got their go-ahead touchdown from the offense in the third quarter, leaving the game in the sturdy hands of its defense.
And in the fourth quarter, Iota took over defensively, recovering a fumble on the eight yard line as Oberlin drove the field to answer. On the Tigers’ following drive it was an interception by Michael Thevis, and on the next drive the Bulldogs’ defense forced Oberlin backward, picking up two sacks on quarterback Mark Fontenot and dropping Darbonne for a loss. And, to seal the deal, Iota made sure there would be no last second heroics this week, ensuring that Iota pitched a shutout for the final three quarters of the game.
“They were driving on us and we forced a couple of turnovers and both were big,” said Legé. “We were short-handed tonight with both of our defensive tackles out with injuries so we had a couple of young kids really step up and played hard. I was proud of that.
Iota’s two-back system continued to pay dividends as Fantroy and Murrell finished the night with 18 carries each. Fantroy picked up 76 yards and a touchdown, Murrell picked up 75 yards and a touchdown. Lunson added five yards on two carries.
In the air, Lunson finished the night with one completion on three attempts for 35 yards. That pass was caught by Fantroy.
The Bulldogs’ total offense for the evening was 189 yards and picked up seven first downs.
Oberlin finished the night with 282 yards of total offense, highlighted by Austin Darbonne’s 14 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown and three receptions for 59 yards. Trace Joubert added eight carries for 41 yards and a touchdown and Fontenot had seven carries for 19 yards, along with several other ball carriers for the Tigers.
Fontenot finished the night in the air 6-for-13 for 101 yards and an interception. Jordy Pitre (17 yards), Aaron McClendon (13 yards) and Cameron Durio (12 yards) each had one reception.