With their 31-14 win Friday night over Bunkie (0-6, 0-1 in district 5-2A), Iota (2-4, 1-0) is now on a roll and can set their sights on continued progress.
“We’re on a bit of a roll here,” said Legé. “We’ve won two in a row and during homecoming week, with all the distractions, I thought our kids did a good job of coming out and taking care of business. I’m real pleased with that.”
The Bulldogs came out strong in the first quarter moving the ball down the field at will on its first drive. The strong opening featured Iota’s running game and the rotating backfield of Thomas Murrell and Brandon Fantroy.
The drive began on the Bulldogs 36 yard line and nine plays and three minutes and 38 seconds later, the Bulldogs were in the endzone. The drive was highlighted by Fantroy’s 21 yard run and Murrell’s 16 yard run (Murrell’s longest of the night) on consecutive plays. Murrell’s one yard run with eight minutes and 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter capped off the productive drive.
It marked the start of a good night for the Iota offense, a 334 yards of total offense night.
The first quarter also saw what has plagued the Panthers all season, mistakes and miscues gifting their opponents touchdowns and it all began on Bunkie’s first drive of the game.
On its first play from scrimmage, the Panthers’ 39 yard line, running back Mark Elridge fumbled the ball and gave Iota the ball back on the 43 yard line. Three short plays and 50 seconds later, it was Fantroy running in from seven yards out. There was just over seven minutes left in the first quarter. The drive featured Iota’s quiet passing game with a 41-yard bomb from Timothy Lunson to Fantroy.
Bunkie’s next possession featured similar problems. After a three-and-out, Bunkie lined up for a punt, but the ball was snapped well over Tyler Marks head and a 29-yard loss on the play gave Iota the ball on the Panthers’ 18 yard line.
That mistake lead to another Bulldogs touchdown. The drive took one minute and 42 seconds and four plays and was capped off with Murrell’s five yard run.
It was as if all the bad things that had happened to Iota all season were coming back and haunting an opponent, giving the Bulldogs the perfect opportunity to capitalize. Iota found itself in unchartered territory again, up 19-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“We came out on fire and the sign of a young team, we thought it was going to be easy, but to their credit, Bunkie toughened up,” said Legé.
But in the second, Bunkie began to find its footing, mostly thanks to Elridge whose sweeping runs netted big yardage throughout the night.
“What they were doing on offense gave us a lot of problems,” said Legé. “The showed something on offense we hadn’t seen from them all year.
“We weren’t ready for that, we were ready for a passing game. So, my hat off to them for that; they stuck with that all night when they found something that worked.”
The score would remain scoreless through the second quarter, but Bunkie’s offense had found its rhythm.
In the third quarter, Iota’s offense came back out with fire, once again marching down the field and picking up six more points.
“We came out in the second half looking to add to our lead and we finished the job in the second half,” said Legé.
The 12-play drive took four minutes and 15 seconds off of the clock and started from Iota’s own 33 yard line. Fantroy’s run from five yards out capped off the drive that was highlighted by a 30 yard run from Fantroy (his longest run of the night).
Bunkie picked up its first touchdown of the game on a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown by Christian Sauseda off of a J.T. LeJeune pass with 47.6 seconds left.
“We had a miscommunication on the pick six,” said Legé. “We had the ball overthrown and a receiver lined up wrong, but it was a solid outing for all tonight.”
The offensive production of the game quieted the remainder of the third quarter and most of the fourth quarter.
Then, after trading possessions, Iota got the ball back with five minutes and 31 seconds left in the game and began another lengthy drive. The Dogs traveled 51 yards in seven plays but took almost four minutes off of the clock. Fantroy’s 11 yard touchdown run with one minute and 52 seconds remaining granted Iota its 31st point of the night.
Bunkie would again answer, though, finding, finally a complete drive. A 15 yard pass from Connor Descant to Tyler Gremillion finished a seven play drive that took one minute and 48 seconds. It was something positive in a sea of negative for the Panthers.
There was another bright spot for the Panthers Friday night, after spending last week with a passing focus on offense, Bunkie came out running and, coupled with Elridge’s great field vision, netted him 167 yards on the ground and 176 total yards. He would end the night accounting for 83 percent of the Panthers’ total offense.
“We have to learn that when you have a team on their heels and we’re driving down to put one more in, we have to do it,” said Legé. “If we had done that earlier, that game is ‘done’ a lot earlier in the night.”
In a losing effort, Elridge’s 167 yards on 20 carries was detracted by several negative plays, with two players finishing in negative figures. Descant finished the night five-for-seven with a touchdown and 83 yards in the air. Leading in receptions was Dillion Bordelon with two catches for 44 yards.
The Bulldogs saw one of its best nights with Fantroy rushing for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Murrell added 87 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries of his own. They led the way in a 258 yard night on the ground. The Bulldogs added 76 total yards in the air with Lunson going two-for-three for 55 yards and LeJeune adding 21 yards of his own, completing one of his three passes and throwing one interception.
The Bulldogs must now also wait with baited breath as senior offensive lineman John Pinson went down late in the game with a knee injury.
“We’ll have him evaluated in the morning,” said Legé. “I hope it’s nothing major. He’s a senior and I’d hate for his year to end early like this.”