Mistakes lead to Iota's defeat

By: Jeannine LeJeune
IOTA – Inconsistencies, mistakes and turnovers are all a part of the recipe for disaster in a game and will kill any team’s chances of winning.

Just ask the Iota Bulldogs.

The game started well for Iota, despite the definite size and experience disadvantage. But, in the end, the size and experience, as well as the fumble issues, proved to be too much for the Bulldogs, who fell to the Vinton Lions 12-6 in the Thursday night season opener.

“Mental miscues kept us out of it all night long,” said Iota Coach Neal Legé. “Early in the year it is going to be tough, but we have to find a way to work through all that.”

For Iota, Vinton presented two big problems, both offensive and defensive lines averaging over well over 200 pounds and junior running back D.J. Reed, who is listed at five feet, nine inches and 190 pounds. Exasperating the problems for the Bulldogs was the fact that Reed appeared to be everywhere on the field, making plays offensively, defensively and on special teams.

“They were just so huge up front that foot to foot they were just wedging us out,” said Legé, “ and we were just standing up with them instead of going low against a line that size. We just didn’t do it tonight. We stood up and we got tired and with a lot of kids going both ways it happens.”

Reed’s impact on the game, as well as the Lions’ offensive line’s, was felt in the first series of the game. The Lions drove the ball 65 yards, 49 of which Reed picked up on the ground. The other 16 yards were all due to Vinton quarterback Jarrod Anderson who used both his feet and arm to picked up the yards. However, as Vinton tried to build on their aerial attack, Iota answered with back-to-back broken up passes, culminating in the Lions turning the ball over on downs.

Then it was Iota’s turn. In their first series, the Bulldogs held Vinton in the red zone and found a good, effective rhythm on offense. The series was highlighted by a 35 yard run on third down by Brandon Fantroy, a 30 yard run by Thomas Murrell on third down and a 20 yard touchdown pass from Murrell to Reagan Leblanc on fourth down less than a minute before the first quarter came to a close. The 10 play, 81 yard series was a welcomed sight for Iota fans and appeared to be a sign of good things for Iota.

But then the problems for Iota really started.

After forcing Vinton to punt in just four plays, the Bulldogs muffed the punt return and gave Vinton new life. Still, Iota kept Vinton out of the end zone and after switching possession each one more time, Iota found itself on the move again. With only seconds remaining in the half, the Bulldogs fumbled away the ball and their lead as Reed, who doubles as a defensive back, picked up the ball and returned the fumble for a 61 yard touchdown.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Bulldogs fumbled the ensuing kickoff return and would go into halftime tied 6-6.

The Lions came out after half on a mission, executing an onside kick and subsequently traveling 47 yards to the end zone in two plays in 53 seconds. The Bulldogs quickly found themselves down and there appeared to be no reprieve for the home team in sight.

And there wasn’t. The Bulldogs would get the ball in great field position, but a couple of penalties and several fumbles continued to kill any momentum Iota would gain on offense.

“Turnovers killed us, just absolutely killed us,” said Legé. “Every time we’d get something positive going, we found a way to either fumble the ball or miss a block or run the wrong way”

Offensively, the star of the game came from Vinton. Reed’s 26 carries for 154 yards proved to be too for the Bulldogs as Iota mustered only 166 rushing yards total Thursday night.

For Iota, offensive leaders included Fantroy (10 for 81 yards rushing), Michael Thevis (10 for 32 yards rushing) and Murrell (10 for 39 yards rushing and 2-3 for 25 yards and one touchdown in the air).

Vinton’s Anderson (11 for 24 rushing and 2-12 for 26 yards in the air), Shawn Fenetz (8 for 26 yards rushing) and Deion Sonnier (3 for 47 yards and a 46 yard rushing touchdown) rounded out the game’s offensive stars.

While Iota welcomed back the return of sophomore Kyle Legér they may have lost another sophomore for some time as Nick Sloane took quite the hit on the game’s opening kickoff. The prognosis is good however, according to Legé.

“He’s OK. He’s got feeling in his extremities and his CT scan was OK. He’ll be fine.”

Iota will travel to Eunice to face district 6-1A’s St. Edmund Friday, Sept. 9.

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