Big plays boost Kinder to victory over Iota

When the Iota Bulldogs and Kinder Yellowjackets collided Friday night in Bulldogs Stadium, it was obvious that the two programs were on different paths.

It was more obvious after the final whistle.

It was then that the Yellowjackets claimed a 38-13 victory over the Bulldogs, improved to 4-1 and looked ready to begin district play. It was also then that Iota fell to 0-5 and looked to be limping into district 4-3A action beginning next week.

“We talk about the same thing over and over again and here we are Week Five and it's still the same thing,” said Iota coach Neal Legé. “That's not a good thing because that means we're not getting better. We just keep making the same mistakes.

“It's frustrating. You want success for these guys. But now we're 0-5 going into a very tough district. It is not going to be an easy task with any of these games from here on out.

The Bulldogs cross the midway point no where near where they thought they would be or could have been as Legé pointed out how close could have easily found itself at 3-2 or 4-1 entering district. Instead it is now a very tall order the Bulldogs.

“We have to learn to be more discipline and take care of our business,” he said.

But for everything that has gone wrong with Iota this year, Kinder has found things going right and the Yellowjackets moved one step closer to putting the full puzzle together Friday night.

“You could say names, but it was really everybody doing what they're supposed to do,” said Kinder coach Bret Fuselier. “I felt like we got better and that's all we're trying to do week to week.

“It's a big win going into district.”

Fuselier, in his first year with Kinder, spoke most highly of his offense which took a big step forward in Week Five.

“I feel like tonight we got a little bit better, especially on offense,” he said. “We were able to run the ball on offense tonight and that's what we wanted to see.”

The Yellowjackets made big plays both on the ground, where Kinder gained 375 yards, and in the air, where Kinder gained 70 yards. And, while team effort is no stretch, the Yellowjackets' quarterback Austin Pickle accounted for five of his team's six touchdowns either by making big plays himself that included a 71-yard touchdown run and by finishing off drives that were put into motion by big plays.

Kinder's offensive success began on its first drive. Capping off a 63-yard, 10-play drive was Welles Cooley scoring from 5 yards out with 7:58 remaining in the first quarter. The drive featured the first of several big plays from the Yellowjackets offense when Jordan Vickers took a third-and-9 from the Iota 42-yard line and ran for 34 yards. With Trenton Kirland's extra point, the Yellowjackets held an early 7-0 lead.

Iota would answer on its second drive. The eight play, 48-yard drive saw Iota return to its running game with most yards coming off the feet of the returning Adam Ardoin, who carried the ball five times in the drive. Finally with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter, quarterback Tim Lunson scored from 5 yards out and Tristan Fontenot's extra point tied the game at seven.

After those scores, the game seem to fall into place for the Yellowjackets. The slow-starting defense, a problem Kinder has faced all season according to Fuselier, was awaken and held Iota to only six more points the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Kinder's offense never stopped all night.

“They cranked it up (on offense) and we didn't,” said Legé. “We ran some plays well tonight, but we would blow up on one play and that was the difference.

“They got us with the weak side option so many times tonight, they must have scored four or five touchdowns on that one play alone.”

Legé wasn't incorrect as that one play led to several big play opportunities for the Yellowjackets throughout the night, including a 53-yard touchdown run by Pickle in the second quarter, a 71-yard touchdown run by Pickle in the third and a 33-yard touchdown run by Pickle in the fourth. Pickle would also add a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth, set up by a 32-yard pass from Pickle to Khalil LeBlanc where LeBlanc made a great play on a tipped ball in the fourth quarter. The Kinder quarterback would also add a 9-yard touchdown pass to Derric Ceasar in the second quarter that was set up by a 56-yard run by Kade Andrews.

Iota, meanwhile, would find the end zone on the opening drive of the third quarter. A 13-play, 77-yard drive was capped by Lunson's 1-yard quarterback keeper. The drive would include all three of Lunson's completions, including a 21-yard pass to Sam Reed on first-and-20, several quarterback keeper plays and more of Iota's ground-and-pound style. The Bulldogs, however, would miss the extra point and would still be down seven points at the time of the score.

Compounding Iota's problems Friday night were penalties, most of which came in the fourth quarter. Already staring at a 25-point deficit, Iota would begin moving the ball down the field again late in the quarter. After converting a crucial fourth-and-4 and ending up at the Kinder 28-yard line. Iota would send Nick Sloane to gain 9 yards on the ground. After the play, Iota would pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, followed by two more on the same dead ball. Now, instead of second-and-1, Iota would have to tackle a second-and-47. Unable to recover, a once promising drive was again thwarted and the Bulldogs would punt three plays later.

Offensive leaders for Kinder included Pickle would end his night 6-10 for 70 yards and a touchdown in the air and leading all Yellowjackets on the ground with 162 yards and four touchdowns on six carries. Vickers would be Kinder's next leading rusher with 94 yards on 17 carries and Cooley would carry four times for 22 yards and a touchdown.

For Iota, Lunson would finish the night with 14 carries for 40 yards and those two touchdowns on the ground and 3-5 and 38 yards in the air. The ground game for the Bulldogs was boosted by Ardoin, who led Iota with 17 carries for 79 yards, Nick Sloane, who had 11 carries for 59 yards and Sam Reed, who carried the ball twice for 13 yards. Sloane also had a catch for 10 yards and Reed had two for 28 yards.

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