Iota rallies past Rayne in spring game

IOTA – It was the tale of two halves for the Iota Bulldogs Thursday evening in their annual spring football game against Rayne’s Wolves.

The Wolves dominated the first half of play despite only taking a 7-0 advantage into the intermission.

But the Bulldogs reversed the tables in the second half, outscoring the visiting Wolves 14-3 to take a 14-10 victory.

“We played a lot harder in the second half than we did in the first,” said Iota coach Marcus LeJeune. “Our effort got a lot better as the game went on. We really didn’t do anything differently in the second half. We just got better effort.”

Rayne controlled the entire first half (two nine minute quarters), limiting Iota to just 18 total yards on three series and no first downs.

The second half was all Iota. The Bulldogs racked up two touchdowns and gained 158 yards and eight first downs in the final two quarters.

“The biggest thing is that when you’re coming off a bad season like we just came off of, you have to learn how to win,” said Rayne coach Curt Ware, whose squad went 1-10 in 2009. “The first half, they (Iota) didn’t have one first down, not one first down. In the second half, they cranked it up and we didn’t. Our effort has got to be good for four quarters and not just two and that’s the bottom line.”

Ware is hopeful his team learned from the experience.

“Just because you dominate somebody in the first half, that doesn’t mean you win the game. It’s a four-quarter game,” he said.

The Wolves’ offense showed its dominance early, driving 50 yards on their opening possession before scoring on a one-yard plunge by sophomore quarterback Clarence Leger.

Rayne had another opportunity just before the half, but an Iota goal line stand left the Wolves two yards shy of the end zone when the horn sounded.

“That goal line stand before the half was big,” said LeJeune. “It kind of sparked some energy in us and it carried over into the second half.”

Iota’s defense held Rayne on the opening possession of the second half, stopping the Wolves on fourth and one at midfield.

Iota’s Trey St. Andre and Colby Wickman pounded the ball down inside the red zone before quarterback Gavin Guidry tied the game at 7-7 on a one-yard run.

“Our offensive line played a lot better in the second half,” said LeJeune. “Our running backs did a great job all game, it was just in the second half, they had some holes to run in.”

Rayne looked to answer on its ensuing possession when Kentrill Alexander broke loose for a 61-yard run before being brought down at the IHS 9 yard line by Bryant Fantroy.

Again, Iota’s defense stood tall and limited Rayne to a 24-yard field goal by Andrew Abshire that gave the Wolves a 10-7 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“We kind of had a letdown on that big run, but we picked it back up and held them to a field goal,” said LeJeune. “It was the effort, that’s what it was.”

Rayne’s lead was shortlived.

Iota responded with a two-play drive that was capped by a 58-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Thomas Murrell to Wickman for the eventual game winner.

The pass was one of only three thrown by Iota and came on Murrell’s second play under center.

“When you get the run going and they start creeping up...we were able to slip past them,” said LeJeune of the game-winning play. “We were running the ball and it was a play-action pass. It seemed like a good spot to throw it. Murrell put it where it needed to be and we made a good catch on the run.”

Iota’s defense came through one more time, holding Rayne on fourth and short before the Bulldogs’ offense ran the clock out to end the game.

Alexander accounted for the bulk of Rayne’s offense, logging 121 yards on 15 carries. Brody Bourque followed with 73 yards on 17 totes and Leger picked up 32 yards on eight carries.

St. Andre paced Iota’s ground attack with 68 yards on 13 carries. Wickman rushed for 20 yards on five carries and had one reception for 58 yards and a touchdown.

“We finished up on a good note and it’s a good start to the summer for us,” said LeJeune. “We still have some film to watch to see where we need to go from there to get better as a football team. And, of course, we have two hard months of working out that we need to take care of so we can compete.”

Despite the loss, Ware was also pleased with the way spring has gone for his team.

“We had a great spring,” said Ware. “We are going to be better, we just have to learn from our mistakes. Today, it was a practice game. It doesn’t count for anything. Hopefully we learn from it.”

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