Second half surge lifts Lake Arthur past Iota

IOTA - It would appear that the Iota Bulldogs will not go down without a fight

A week after St. Edmund destroyed Iota, the Bulldogs came to play.

But, still, it just wasn’t enough.

Instead the Lake Arthur Tigers improved to 3-0 while Iota fell to 0-3 after a second half surge by the Tigers helped the team pick up the 37-14 victory.

“They (The Bulldogs) played a lot harder tonight, we (the coaching staff) were very pleased with their effort,” said Iota Coach Neal Legé. “I was pleased with the progress we made. We still have a long way to go though.

“We have a lot of young kids playing out there and they’re playing their hearts out. That’s all we can ask of them right now.”

For Iota and Lake Arthur the game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the teams exchanged blows and the Bulldogs’ defense was on showcase. The Dogs’ John Michael Trahan forced a fumble in the first quarter and a late second quarter interception by Michael Thevis halted two steady-moving drives by the Tigers. Meanwhile, on offense, Iota finally found some rhythm in the second quarter with a five-play, 46 yard drive that lasted 2:22, giving the Bulldogs six points after a missed PAT.

The touchdown answered Lake Arthur’s quick first quarter touchdown. The 2:35 drive saw the Tigers move the ball with relative ease. The Dogs’ defense came alive following that drive and helped insure a one point game at the half.

The defense deserves a great deal of credit for that first half performance. Not only did they pull off two momentum swinging turnovers, but they managed to keep the duo of running backs to a combined 43 yards on 14 carries and zero touchdowns. It was a sign of good things to hopefully come.

The close game didn’t stay that way for long, though.

Coming out of the half with momentum and receiving the ball, it seemed Iota had a team where they wanted them. But that wasn’t to be.

For one, Lake Arthur’s Trent Hargrave would not be denied picking up three touchdowns and 133 yards to finish the night with 20 carries for 163 yards. Colby Benoit also had a good second half picking up 70 extra yards and a touchdown of his own. The defense that had done just about everything you could ask for began making the mistakes that plagued them in the first two games.

“We still made mistakes that hurt us on defense and on offense as well,” said Legé. “When we needed to make a big play, we missed blocks and Lake Arthur came back with big plays right afterward to capitalize.

“They just had the right calls and we blew assignments. They were able to get the edge on us and didn’t let it go.”

The offense wasn’t doing itself any favors either. Multiple holding and illegal shift penalties negated big plays and a couple of fumbles in the third quarter also kept the Bulldogs from responding to Lake Arthur’s touchdowns.

“I don’t think it’s that we got tired, I think it was a lack of execution,” said Legé. “They were able to make the big plays and capitalize. We forced them into some mistakes but we couldn’t capitalize on that.”

The third quarter ended with Iota’s one point deficit seeming like a distant memory. The 16 point game after three frames would prove to be only part of that second half surge, however.

As the Bulldogs’ offense continued to struggle, the Tigers continued to roll, picking up another touchdown, Hargrave’s third of the night.

But finally, Iota’s offense got some consistent movement as Legé gave sophomore J.T. LeJeune some snaps as the Bulldogs’ quarterback and moved Thomas Murrell to the featured back in the I-formation. A move that helped set up a six-yard touchdown pass from LeJeune to a wide open Wyatt Steen.

“I’ve wanted to get J.T. (LeJeune) in,” said Legé. “He’s a pretty good passer and did a good job tonight. I also wanted to see Thomas (Murrell) at I-back and he also did a pretty good job. We saw some positives with both changing positions.”

With roughly five-and-a-half minutes remaining the Bulldogs would try for an onside kick, but instead Lake Arthur was given a shorten field and capitalized with a touchdown of its own about one minute later. The touchdown, along with a fourth quarter interception of LeJeune helped the Tigers put the final nail in the coffin.

When things were going well for Iota, however, the ball touched multiple hands. The Bulldogs had four rushers, two quarterbacks and three receivers during this game. They were led by Brandon Fantroy (10 carries, 44 yards), Thevis (10 carries, 43 yards) and Murrell (nine carries, 32 yard) on the ground. In the air, Murrell’s three for five night and a touchdown and LeJeune’s two for five night with a touchdown saw the duo finish the night with a completion percentage of 50 and 95 combined yards helped Ryan Chapman (two catches for 58 yards), Fantroy (one catch for 26 yards and a touchdown), Reagan Leblanc (one for five yards) and Steen (one for six yards and a touchdown) all get involved in the offense.

Besides the stellar play of Hargrave and Benoit, Lake Arthur’s Rory Guidry (six for nine, one interception, one touchdown and 117 yards and five carries for zero yards) helped the Tigers pick up the win.

The Bulldogs will try to find their first win against 4-3A’s South Beauregard next week at Bulldog Stadium.

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