THE POST-SIGNAL / D. Sexton
Iota’s Daylan Lunson breaks free for a big gain Friday during the Bulldogs’ 9-6 loss to Jewel Sumner in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Sumner fends off late rally to slip past Iota
A late comeback by the Iota Bulldogs fell just short as the Cowboys of Jewel Sumner escaped with a 9-7 win here Friday night in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Heavy rains and thunderstorms would prove to be too much to handle as both teams combined for six turnovers in the game.
Bulldog coach Josh Andrus was concerned with the wet field and tough conditions.
“I thought we did a good job of securing the ball considering the weather. But I felt handling snaps we didn’t do a real good job wet or dry.”
Iota accounted for four fumbles on the water-soaked turf that would prove to be too difficult to overcome for the Bulldogs.
The tough playing conditions limited the Iota air attack and coach Josh Andrus had to rely on a heavy dose of the running game.
“Weather definitely affected the play calling tonight but Dawson being hurt probably was a bigger factor. As good as we moved the ball, we could’ve had a lot more yards by being able to throw the ball,” said Andrus.
Junior Daylan Lunson would receive most of the carries for the Dogs and ended the night with big yards again for the Bulldogs. Lunson found big gains right up the middle behind good blocking by the Bulldogs offensive line for most of the night.
“I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did last time we faced a 3-3-5 defense and continue to run outside. Our big boys up front made the coaching staff look good by making some big holes in the middle and Lunson ran really hard for the second week in a row,” added Andrus.
The Cowboys received the opening kickoff and quickly got into Iota territory. Running back Maleke Evans picked up 28 yards on the first play from scrimmage and got inside Iota territory to the 35-yard line. A few plays later, the Cowboys would be faced with a fourth down and a quarterback sack by line backer Trevor Lopez gave the ball back to Iota.
The Bulldogs would not waste any time getting into Cowboy territory as well as Lunson got loose for a 38-yard pickup and got the ball to the Sumner 25 before being pushed out of bounds. T
he Iota drive would stall, and the Cowboys would take over on downs deep inside their own territory. The Iota defense held and forced a Sumner punt.
The second quarter began with Iota facing a fourth down from about midfield. Jewel Sumner’s LaQuantion Bickham got free up the middle and blocked the Louis Doroteo punt to give the Cowboys good field position at Iota 34-yard line. A few plays later, Sumner’s Brennan Self found the end zone from five yards out to give the home team the 7-0 lead.
Time would expire on the next Bulldog possession and Iota went into the half trailing by seven.
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff of the second half and started their next drive at their own 42-yard line following a good return by kick returner Cole Laughlin. Following the block of guard Ashton Breaux, Lunson picked up big yards on the first play of the second half and moved the ball into Cowboy territory. Iota had the ball at the Sumner 29-yard line but he drive stalled and Iota turned the ball over on downs.
The Bulldogs only allowed one first down on the drive and forced another Cowboy punt.
The Bulldogs would turn the ball over on the first play of the drive and Sumner was in business from inside Iota territory.
The Cowboys found some success running the football and got the ball inside the Iota 20-yard line.
Like it had done all night, the Bulldogs defense made another big play as Iota’s Connor Daigle recovered a Sumner fumble on the Iota 18-yard line.
“Coach (Ray) Aucoin found a certain alignment that was giving them trouble on the edge. Our defensive line and line backers started getting up field and started playing in Sumners backfield,” Added Andrus on the performance of his defense.
Iota would again turn the ball over as quarterback Dawson Wallace fumbled the snap and recovered the ball in the Bulldog end zone. The play resulted in a safety, and the Cowboys lead grew to 9-0.
The Cowboys took the next possession after the free kick and drove deep into Iota territory once again.
This time, a bad exchange between center Logan Harrell and Bickham gave the ball back to Iota on their won 18-yard line.
The fourth quarter began during Iota’s next possession. The Bulldogs would have success with Lunson and Wallace running the football through the mud and rain to get it close to mid field before the drive stalled.
After a Doroteo punt, the Cowboys took over with a little over nine minutes remaining in the game. Content on running the ball and killing time off the clock, the Cowboys again drove the football deep into Iota territory.
After a big third down stop by the Iota defense, lead by Parker Hayes and Wyatt Gobert, cornerback Cole Laughlin batted down a pass and Iota took over on downs with just under five minutes to go in the ball game.
Lunson got good yards and got close to midfield and a face mask penalty against the Cowboys would put the ball into Jewel Sumner territory. More tough running by Lunson and Wallace got the ball into the red zone before Lunson found pay dirt to get the Bulldogs on the board. The 2-pt try was no good and Iota trailed 9-6 with 2:01 remaining.
The Bulldogs would attempt the onsides kick and Doroteo executed it to perfection as Iota recovered and took over from the Cowboy 40-yard line.
The Cowboys defense made a few more plays than Iota’s offense however and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs.
Jewel Sumner took a knee and came away with a 9-7 victory.
Iota finished the 2020 season with a 3-4 record and the Bulldogs fourth straight playoff appearance.
Coach Andrus was sure to express his gratitude for the work his team and especially his seniors put in.
“With COVID-19, hurricanes, and cancelled games, I thought this senior class was put through the ringer for their last season. But the way they took it in stride and continued to give their all shows a lot about their character. I feel football is a great gage on how someone will handle tough situations in life. This senior class will have no problem succeeding in real life.”