Missed opportunities plague Gents in loss to Jennings
CROWLEY – The opportunities were plentiful for the Crowley Gents Thursday evening.
Capitalizing on those opportunities, however, was another story.
The Gents, who racked up 370 yards of total offense, marched deep inside Jennings territory eight times, but they scored just twice in suffering a crippling 39-14 loss to the Bulldogs at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“It’s just been that kind of season for us,” said Crowley High coach Josh Fontenot, whose squad fell to 2-6 on the year and 1-2 in District 4-3A play. “Everything goes great for a little while and then, boom, it just blows up on us.”
The Gents, as in past games, looked to be up to challenge early on when they marched 67-yards on 10 plays on the game’s opening drive, capping it with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Andre Mills. Mackay Mouton’s PAT gave Crowley a 7-0 lead with 8:12 remaining in the opening frame.
Jennings answered with a touchdown of its own just over five minutes later when Charlie Matte scored from 13 yards out and Kaleb Chaisson added the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an 8-7 advantage.
That was pretty much the beginning of the end for the Gents.
A special teams’ mistake on the ensuing kickoff gave the Bulldogs the ball back at the Gents 3-yard line and on the first play, Jarquis Brown hit pay dirt.
“We hadn’t really had special teams errors all season and then, all of the sudden, it shows up right there,” said Fontenot. “That’s a huge turning point in the game right there. You’re down 8-7 and everything is fine considering the way we were moving the ball.
“Then, all of the sudden, it happens and they go in and score. Really, we just couldn’t seem to overcome that.”
The Gents started their next series at their own 37 and marched down to the JHS 26. But on fourth and inches, Mills was sacked for a loss and Jennings took over on downs.
Crowley squandered another opportunity on its next possession when the Gents got down to the JHS 13. But back-to-back incompletions gave the Bulldogs the ball once again.
This time, the Bulldogs capitalized by driving 87 yards in 12 plays. Matte took the honors again, scoring this time from two yards out.
The Gents had one final chance to cut into the lead before the half, but on fourth-and-9 from the 11, Mills’ pass to Moore fell inches short of the first down marker.
“Twice tonight on fourth down, we come up an inch away,” said Fontenot. “At that point, you start wondering about the football gods.”
But with a whole half of football left, the Gents were still in the game.
For a little while, anyway.
But they let another golden opportunity slip through their fingers to start the third quarter.
On the first play of the second half, Matte fumbled and Crowley’s Jessie Harmon recovered the loose pigskin at the JHS 20.
A pair of runs by Danny Malbrough and an incompletion had the Gents facing another fourth-down situation. And again, the Gents failed to extend the series when Mills was sacked at the 22.
“They (Jennings) gave us trouble defensively,” said Fontenot. “They just outmanned us physically. They beat us up a little bit up front.”
Jennings mounted yet another drive, thanks mainly to a 55-yard run by Matte, and took a 29-7 lead on a 5-yard scamper by Brown.
This time, Crowley had an answer.
After a 44-yard kickoff return by Tiron Foreman, the Gents went to a wildcat package and reeled off big runs by Chris Lewis and Danny Malbrough. The drive ended in a 9-yard touchdown run by Lewis to cut the deficit to 29-14 with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter.
After each team traded punts, Jennings struck again, to halt the Gents’ momentum.
The Bulldogs hit pay dirt through the air this time when quarterback Jaylon Boutte hit Chaisson on a 9-yard scoring strike. It was Boutte’s only pass attempt of the game.
Crowley got close once again thanks to two big passes to Thomas Cavell and another one to Malbrough that set the Gents up with a first-and-goal from the 10. The promising drive ended the very next play when Mills was intercepted at the 2-yard line by T.J. Davis, who returned it to the JHS 46.
The interception, Mills’ first of the season, led to a 26-yard field goal by Seth Cox.
The Gents again marched down the field and reached the red zone before time expired.
“It was just missed opportunities,” said Fontenot. “We knew we were going to have to stop them and at times we did. Offensively, we just weren’t able to take advantage of it a few times.”
Despite being held down on the scoreboard, the Gents put up impressive numbers offensively.
Mills, who was playing with a sprained ankle, completed 14 passes for 196 yards, seven of which went to Moore for 100 yards and a touchdown. Malbrough added three receptions for 51 yards and Cavell had four catches for 45 yards.
“I’ve been coaching Andre for four years and this was the best I’ve ever seen him throw the ball,” said Fontenot. “And Chanz Moore, I can’t say enough about that kid. He made some catches that were just outrageous. We said we wanted to get him the ball and we got him the ball.”
Malbrough and Lewis led the ground attack with 84 and 82 yards, respectively.
“We knew it was going to be tough pickings inside,” said Fontenot. “We knew that so we did what we could. But like I said, it was just missed opportunities.”
Jennings racked up 342 total yards of offense with all but nine yards of it on the ground.
Matte led the charge with 18 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns while Brown had 116 yards and two scores on 25 carries.
“Their running backs are good at what they do,” said Fontenot. “They run hard and they’re tough. And when they hit you in the mouth over and over again, it gets to where it just wears on you. But we kept coming and we got some stops. We got enough stops tonight to win the game.”
The Gents are now down to the final two games and they are the biggest two of the season. Win out and the Gents get an 11th playing date. Lose one and the playoffs are out of the window.
But Fontenot is sure of one thing - his squad will not stop fighting until the bitter end.
“We’ve got two more games and we need to win them both to get into the playoffs,” said Fontenot. “We’re going to work on Sunday. They’re going to come and meet me and everyone of them will be there. I know it.”