Crowley blanks Kaplan in Acadia/Vermilion Parish Jamboree
CROWLEY – It’s still way too early to tell, but after watching his Crowley Gents record a shutout in Thursday’s Acadia/Vermilion Jamborre outing against Kaplan, Tommy Tate has reason to be optimistic about his 2011 defense.
That defense, which yielded 288 yards and just over 27 points a game in 2010, held Kaplan’s wing-t offense to 45 yards in the first half and 131 overall in a commanding 13-0 victory over the Pirates at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“Any time you get a goose egg on the board, you know, hats off to the defense,” said Tate. “Kaplan does a good job with the wing-t and we got them in some long yardage situations and that’s the key, playing good first-down defense. I thought we did that for the most part.”
Crowley’s defense was a factor early and often, forcing a fumble on Kaplan’s first play of their first offensive series, which was recovered by Dorris Senegal, and then holding the Pirates to three-and-out on their next drive. The Gents also held their opposition to just one first down in the first half before forcing a turnover on downs.
It was much of the same story in the second half for Crowley’s defense.
Kaplan’s first two drives of the half resulted in interceptions, one by Damon Malbrough and one by Brody Deshotel.
“When you play hard, you don’t know where the takeaways are going to come,” said Tate. “But if you play with great effort, they’ll come; you just don’t know when. You’ve gotta battle every play and when you do that, you have a chance to get takeaways and we got three of them tonight.”
Kaplan’s offense crossed midfield once in the first half before turning the ball over on downs at the CHS 45-yard line.
In the second half, the Pirates reached the CHS 48 on it’s opening drive before a penalty pushed them back across midfield. The drive ended on Malbrough’s interception on third down.
Kaplan started its next series of the second half in Gent territory following a blocked punt by Jacques Laviolette. Quarterback Kamron Abshire broke a long run to the CHS 27, but a loss and a run for no gain was followed up by Deshotel’s interception.
The Pirates mounted one last drive when they got the ball back with 3:22 remaining.
Playing against Crowley’s second- and third-unit defenses, the Pirates marched down to the CHS 25 before time expired.
“There were times where they really took it to us and got a couple of first downs,” said Tate. “But then we regrouped, got better play and got them in some long-yardage situations. Any time you get that type of team in second -and-long, third-and- long, then you have them where you want them.”
The effort was in contrast to the unit’s play in 2010, when games resembled track meets more than football games.
Not to be outdone, the CHS offense also gave reason for optimism.
The Gents rolled up 212 total yard in the two,15-minute halves, racking up 12 first downs along the way.
They started early with a 6-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Andre Mills to Kaleb Cormier. Cormier caught the pass around the 30-yard line, spun away from three defenders and outran half the Kaplan team to the end zone. Deshotel then split the uprights to put the Gents up 7-0 with 12:58 remaining in the first half.
LSU commitment Davante Bourque gained 11 yards during the drive and Mills had 16 on two runs.
“I thought we had great tempo on that first drive,” said Tate. “The offense took the field and really played with a lot of tempo and it looked like we were right where we needed to be. We just have to keep that intensity and tempo as the game goes on. I think we lost a little bit of that after that first touchdown.”
The Gents had an opportunity to increase their advantage following a fumble on the Pirates’ first series, but they were unable to capitalize on the take away and turned the ball over on downs at the NV 28.
They wouldn’t let another opportunity slip, however.
After forcing Kaplan into a three-and-out during the Pirates’ next series, the Gents took over at midfield.
This time it took seven plays and a personal foul on the Patriots before Mills scrambled across the goal line from three yards out for the final points of the game.
Crowley’s offense, which got big numbers on the ground and through the air last year, was balanced once again.
On the ground, four Gents - Bourque, Mills, Danny Malbrough and Calvin Robinson - carried the load, combining for 117 yards on 23 carries. Bourque led the way with nine carries for 57 yards; Mills carried 11 times for 37; Malbrough picked up 10 yards on one carry and Robinson had 13 yards on two runs.
Mills was also effective through the air, completing six of his 14 pass attempts for 95 yards.
“I guess the good thing is that I think Andre knows where he’s going with the ball,” said Tate. “He made some good throws. We had some dropped balls and that’s going to happen early in the season. I think as the season goes on, we’ll make those catches. But the good thing is that Andre knows where to go with the ball and we’ll get better at the things that we need to do to throw the football. But we still have to be able to run the football, there’s no doubt about that.”
Cormier was Mills’ top target, hauling in three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Chanz Moore had two receptions for seven yards and Robinson added one catch for seven yards.
Overall, Tate was pleased with the Gents’ performance, but said his squad still has some work to do.
“I liked our effort and the intensity that we played with, but we’re still missing on a lot of things,” he said. “(We had) way too many penalties (six for 60 yards) and we’re missing on a lot of things offensively.
“Defensively, we saw some improvement, but we can still do a lot better of tackling as a team. And on special teams, we still need a lot of work, but I expected that.”
That work began Friday as the Gents looked at film and went through an abbreviated practice in preparation for Friday’s season opener at Patterson.
“We’ll go over film and then introduce Patterson tomorrow at practice,” said Tate. “Patterson is a pretty good team. They played in the state championship game last year and they return most of their skill guys. It’ will be a big challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”