Big plays propel Gents past Wolves

BY CHRIS QUEBEDEAUX

SPORTS EDITOR

RAYNE – Crowley High’s Gents saw enough big plays go against them the two weeks leading up to their District 5-AAA opener against Rayne.

So it was a welcomed relief to see those plays finally go their way Friday against the Wolves.

The Gents, having suffered back-to-back losses to powerhouses Cecilia and Patterson and in desperate need of a victory, used two big plays by their offense and a stout effort by their defense to defeat Rayne, 14-0, and kick off league play on a positive note.

CHS quarterback Dexter Scott turned in an 81-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown early in the second quarter and Troy Wilridge broke loose for a 97-yard touchdown run at the start of the fourth period to account for the only touchdowns of the night.

That’s all the Gents needed, thanks to an opportunistic defense which thwarted two Rayne scoring threats and held the Wolves to 154 total yards.

“The key was that we had two big plays offensively,” said CHS coach Tommy Tate, whose squad improved to 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in league play. “We got a lead and just tried to keep from giving up the big play on defense.”

Those two big plays were huge, accounting for 178 of the Gents’ 245 yards of total offense.

“You take away their two big plays, they don’t have any offense,” said RHS coach Curt Ware following the loss, one that dropped his squad to 3-3 on the season. “But the bottom line is, in a game like that, the team that makes the least mistakes wins. We made every mistake in the world.”

The Wolves’ miscues proved costly, especially a turnover at the CHS 12 yard line following Scott’s touchdown run.

“We’re down there with a chance to score and we pitch the ball on the ground,” said Ware of the key turnover on a pitch from Tyler Venable to Antonio Wheeler. “I didn’t even call that play. It was supposed to be a handoff and we pitched it.”

Then, trailing 7-0 to open the fourth quarter, Rayne drove down to the CHS 7 yard line only to see a fourth-and-goal pass to Vincent Sinegal fall short of the end zone.

The Gents took over at their own 3.

“Right there, if we run the route inside the end zone instead of on the three-yard line, it’s a touchdown,” said Ware. “Then it’s 7-7 and it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m not taking anything away from Crowley. We had every chance to win the ballgame. We made mistakes and they didn’t and that’s the bottom line.”

Said Tate: “We had two good stands on defense.

“We had two possessions where they got inside the red zone and we kept them out. They are very balanced when they get inside the red zone and we made some plays defending the pass and really stuffed the run with the fullback. It was really two big defensive stands with them in the red zone, knocking on the door. That’s how a game can turn and that’s why you have to play every down.”

Crowley’s defensive stand set up Wilridge’s heroics.

With the Gents pinned back just outside their own end zone, the junior utility player took the handoff on the first play, bounced outside and outraced the Rayne defense across the field for his third touchdown in three games. He finished the night with five carries for 106 yards.

“Backed up like that, that was a big play,” said Tate of Wilridge’s run. “We’re backed up, knowing if we don’t get a first down, they are going to get great field position and he breaks the big gainer. He’s been doing that the last three weeks, making big plays.”

Scott also had an impressive night, rushing nine times for 68 yards while also coming out of a slump throwing the football. After connecting on just eight of his 34 pass attempts the previous two weeks, the senior quarterback went 5-for-7 for 52 yards against the Wolves.

“Dexter threw the ball well tonight and the receivers caught a few balls, said Tate. “That’s some of the things that we have to get better at. We have to be able to spread the ball around offensively. You know, we have to be balanced and that’s something we haven’t been able to do because we have been behind early.

“Tonight, we were in the game and we were able to do some different things.”

Defensively, the Gents held their own, forcing five fumbles, two of which resulted in turnovers. The unit also held Rayne’s rushing attack to just 84 yards while limiting Wheeler, who was averaging just under 100 yards per game, to 43 yards.

“I thought we tackled much better as a unit defensively tonight,” said Tate. “There’s still room for improvement there, but I thought we flew around to the ball a little bit more and we had more gang tackling. We played better team defense and again, that’s a credit to our coaches.”

The victory was also huge for the Gents’ morale after dropping back-to-back contests heading into the district opener.

“That was the big thing, taking two defeats like we did,” said Tate. “Ever since the Iowa win, we were never really able to pick ourselves up off the mat in losses to two excellent football teams.

“It’s really a credit to the kids and the coaching staff for getting these guys mentally prepared after taking two really tough defeats. It’s been so long since we’ve been in a ballgame. It’s two weeks where we were out of the game in the first quarter. But at least this ballgame, we stayed in it. It was a hard fought game and it wasn’t pretty always, but it was a win.”

The Gents will step out of district play next week when they travel to Marrero to take on Class AAAAA’s Higgins Thursday evening.

Acadia Parish Today

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