Jennings runs past Crowley in season opener
By Chris Quebedeaux
JENNINGS – The Crowley Gents dug themselves a huge hole in the first half Friday and Jennings running backs Davondrick Phillips and Michael Wilridge made sure the visitors didn’t climb their way out of it in the 2009 prep football season opener for both teams at Bulldog Stadium.
The speedy duo, both juniors, combined for 250 rushing yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Bulldogs to a 37-16 win over the visiting Gents.
“We weren’t good early,” said Crowley High coach Tommy Tate, whose squad trailed 23-0 at the half. “We weren’t a real solid football team in any phase; offense, defense or special teams tonight. And of course, if you do that against a very good Jennings football team, that’s the result you’re going to get.”
Jennings, on the other hand, was clicking on all cylinders from the start, scoring on two of their three first-quarter possessions as well as logging a safety to take a 16-0 advantage before adding one more score in the second frame.
“Just being able to get up like we were at half was huge,” said Jennings coach Rusty Phelps. “They (Crowley) can match us with speed and I just felt like us getting that lead early really helped us out a lot.”
During the first half, Phillips turned in big gains of 14 and 27 yards and Wilridge broke loose on a 39-yard scamper.
“We really had a tough time on the perimeter on the tight end side,” said Tate. “They (Jennings) did a good job executing and we didn’t do a very good job defensively of adjusting. Or we adjusted but we just didn’t make the plays on the sweep. That really gave us some problems.”
Jennings got on the board first with 6:25 remaining in the opening quarter when CHS quarterback D’Myrus Daniels was sacked in his own end zone for a safety.
A short kick followed, allowing the Bulldogs to set up shop at the Crowley 31-yard line. Two short pass plays and two runs got the ball down to the 1-yard line before Wilridge capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to go up 9-0 with 3:53 remaining in the frame.
Jennings, trying to keep the ball out of the Gents’ speedy return players, squibbed a kick and ended up recovering the ball at the CHS 33 -yard line. Two plays later, Carson Hargroder made a leaping, one-handed catch on a pass thrown behind him and raced in from 17 yards out to give the Bulldogs a 16-0 advantage.
“That wasn’t a planned onside kick,” said Phelps. “No. 4 (Troy Wilridge) and No. 3 (Tonori Boutte) really scared us so we were trying to kick it in the corner and we just sliced it and it just fell right for us.”
Phillips and Wilridge carried most of the load in a 10-play, 65-yard drive to start the second quarter that was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jude Bertrand.
Offensively, Crowley struggled in the first half, logging just 34 total yards and two first downs compared to Jennings’ 213 total yards and 11 first downs.
“We were able to come out and establish ourselves tonight against the run and that helped us out a lot,” said Phelps.
Crowley’s defense forced the Bulldogs to punt on their first two series in the third quarter before forcing a fumble that was recovered by Troy Wilridge.
Just one play after the fumble, Daniels burst through the middle of the Jennings line for a 25-yard touchdown. Following a 5-yard penalty, he then added a two-point conversion run to cut the lead to 23-8.
Jennings answered back to start the third quarter, converting on a third and long situation before Phillips tacked on a 25-yard touchdown run.
Jennings added its final score midway through the fourth, following a 37-yard punt return by Aaron Perkins. Stefan Blanchard finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Gents responded with a five-play drive that was highlighted by two pass receptions by Kaleb Cormier for 53 yards, including a 30-yard reception on fourth down. Daniels got the honors, scoring from 3 yards out before completing a two-point conversion pass to Cormier for the final score of the night.
“The second half, we played a little bit better ball,” said Tate. “We had a couple stops on defense, created a turnover and finally broke the ice on offense and got one in the end zone. We did a good job when we got in the red zone and on the two-point conversions.
“If we take this game the right way, it will make us a better football team. We’ve got to be able to handle the failure of tonight. We lost to a good football team. If we go back and regroup and get better at the phases of the game that we need to get better on, because it’s all correctable, we’ll be alright. And then we’ve got to get better execution offensively. “