Bulldogs fall to St. Louis
BY HOWELL DENNIS
LSN STAFF WRITER
IOTA – The St. Louis Saints defeated the scrappy Iota Bulldogs 23-8 on some strong running by Saints running back Stephen Sylvester and an impressive defensive effort.
“We were able to run the ball tonight which really helped us with the clock,” said St. Louis Head Coach Mike Johns. “And we were strong on the line all night.”
In a game that seemed as if St. Louis may run away in the first half, Iota fought back and was within striking distance in the fourth quarter.
“Those guys had an advantage in size and speed,” said Iota coach Marcus LeJeune. “To come back the way we did .... I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
The first half was all St. Louis, with the Saints riding their strong running game and a stalwart defense led by Nick Ledet and Matt Viator. Dillon Berlin scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run and Sylvester ran it in from twelve out for the Saints.
St. Louis was also aided by a high snap over Iota punter Blaise LeJeune’s head which scored a safety for the Saints.
The half ended with the Saints holding a 16-0 lead.
“Our defense really stepped it up,” said Johns. “They did a good job up front as well as in the secondary.”
In the second half, defense dominated in the third quarter with the Saints maintaining the 16-0 lead going into the fourth. The booming kicks of Saints kick off specialist Paul Albarado kept the Bulldogs in tough field position for much of the night.
“I can’t say enough about our kickers,” said Johns. “They had them starting inside the ten a bunch of times.”
The Bulldogs, however, still had some fight left in them.
Chad Abshire ran it in seven yards for a score with 8:36 remaining in the game to bring the Bulldogs to within 16-8.
On the ensuing Saints possession, Christian fumbled the ball to Iota, igniting hope on the Iota sideline. However, those feelings were quickly dashed as the Bulldogs returned the favor, fumbling on their first offensive play. Ledet scooped up the ball for the Saints.
“That turnover hurt us,” said LeJeune.
Sylvester rounded out the scoring in their next possession, with a nifty 38-yard run to give the Saints a 23-8 lead. That turned out to be the final score of the game.
“Stephen had a great night for us,” said Johns.
Both teams appear to be heading toward the playoffs, with St. Louis, 6-2, seemingly destined to earn the 4-3A runner up position. Iota, 6-3, has a strong chance at earning a spot with their power ranking.
When asked about the playoffs, LeJeune quickly dismissed the notion.
“We just want to get in,” he said. “But I’m not even thinking about that right now, we still have a game next week.”
St. Louis rushed for 223 yards in the game, paced by Sylvester’s 93 yards and Christian’s 71. Christian also completed all six of his passes for 31 yards.
The Bulldogs gained a total of 186 yards in the contest with Andy Fontenot’s 55 yards leading the team in rushing. Quarterback Chad Abshire passed for 88 and rushed for an additional 32 for Iota. Trenton Pickett continued his streak of impressive games with two catches for 52 yards and several strong plays on defense.
Iota was without a full-speed Blaise LeJeune, who didn’t carry his normal load due to a shoulder injury. The Bulldogs were already lacking the services of runner Brett Broussard, who is done for the year with a leg injury.
“We have some bumps and bruises right now,” said LeJeune. “Andy (Fontenot) stepped up and had a strong game for us. It was nice to see him get some experience.”
Things don’t get any easier for Iota with second ranked Westlake, 9-0, next on their schedule. The Rams beat Kinder 43-12 on Thursday.
St. Louis caps off their schedule with the Iowa Yellow Jackets.