Iota falls to Jennings in second half
For one half of play, Jennings' homecoming was almost spoiled and Iota looked prime for the upset.
It lasted all of one half.
Instead, Jennings improved to 5-3, 3-0 in district 4-3A and Iota fell to 0-8, 0-3 as the hosting Bulldogs earned the 34-22 victory.
And much like what happened last week to Iota, a prime opportunity changed into a momentum shift that gave the home team all it needed to begin running away with the game.
Coincidentally, the game also began the same as last week for Jennings, according to its coach, Rusty Phelps.
“We knew it was going to be a rough game,” he said. “I'm just proud of my guys, my coaching staff; we had to settle down a little bit but then we were able to make some plays.
“We just asked our guys to play harder and just settle it down a little bit. This is two weeks in a row this happens. We have to get off to faster starts.”
“Sometimes you play hard and sometimes you get beat by better teams,” said Iota coach Neal Legé. “We had the momentum at halftime and I told my guys that Jennings would come out in the second half and they did.
“You know we're 0-and-8, but our kids are playing hard and they're practicing hard and that's all we can ask right now. We know what the deal is with this district, which is probably one of the tougher 3A districts in the state.”
After entering the second half up 14-7 and controlling the ball for most of the first half, Iota looked to keep the energy and momentum up and converted an onside kick to start the half, but instead of either going up two possessions or flipping the field position, Iota would fumble on the second play and Jennings would regain possession at midfield.
That fumble would be the start of Jennings' comeback.
“You know, you could be looking at not getting the ball back, the way they were taking time off the clock, until there are seven or eight minutes to go and down two scores,” said Phelps; “so that was real big for us to get the ball back on that turnover and capitalize and score. Then we were able to get it three-and-out defensively and score again.”
“We had a chance right there,” said Legé. “We get the onside kick and we have a chance with good field position and what do we do, we give the ball right back to them.
“Just not taking care of the ball, plain and simple.”
It wouldn't be until very late in the fourth quarter when Jennings began putting in substitutes on the field that Iota's offense would once again start seeing good positive yardage. In fact, Jennings would score 27 unanswered points between the third and fourth quarters before Iota found the end zone again.
The turn in momentum was also helped by a gaffe on special teams yet again by Iota. It was also another special teams touchdown allowed, another growing problem for Iota.
“We've given up a special teams touchdown every game this year,” said Legé. “It's horrible. It kills us.”
When things were going right for Iota, they were really going right. Iota in the first half was able to muscle forward limiting Jennings to only a handful of plays and even less time. Meanwhile, Iota also converted its long possessions into touchdowns. And it was thanks to its run game.
“They are very physical up front,” said Phelps of Iota. “I can't remember the last time I saw a back carry the ball 45 times in a game, and he just kept running it and their offensive line just kept blocking it.”
“(Ardoin's) the workhorse and we run him,” said Legé. “We ran a couple of other guys to give him a break on plays, but he's doing a great job. He missed five weeks with the shoulder so this is only his third game. We're trying to get the ball in his hands as much as we can.
“Then we have (Sloane) who is our fullback and then he also plays linebacker and that's what's happening to us in the second half, with kids going both ways.”
As has been the case since his return, Iota's Adam Ardoin led the night offensively for his team. Ardoin carried the ball 43 times for 187 yards and a touchdown. Tim Lunson added two touchdowns and 22 yards on seven carries and Nick Sloane had 12 carries for 38 yards.
For Jennings, it was a running back by committee type of night with a few passes to keep the defense honest. Jennings' Lemontay Mouton carried the ball six times for 92 yards and a touchdown and Bryan Willridge carried it seven times for 38 yards and a touchdown. Kaleb Chaisson added 58 yards and a touchdown on five carries as well as going 3-5 with a touchdown and 31 yards.