Second half surge lifts Welsh past Iota
For numbers to never lie, it depends on how you look at them.
The Iota Bulldogs committed less penalties, had more total offense, but the Welsh Greyhounds had the edge in turnovers and on the scoreboard, pulling out the 23-14 victory. Welsh improved to 3-1; Iota, meanwhile, fell to 0-4.
For Iota, the loss meant more questions remained, for Welsh, the answers are starting to be found.
“I’m really proud of the kids overcoming adversity,” said Welsh coach John Richardson. “Last week we lost our first two quarterbacks and a starting running back. Today, the only starting running back we had left broke his leg early in the game. So our kids have fought through a lot of adversity and it shows their character.
“I’m just really proud of them.”
The bulk of Welsh’s 23 points came from shortened fields off of Iota interceptions. That, coupled with a near kickoff return for a touchdown, was a bit of unfortunate déjà vu for the Bulldogs as it was the second week in a row that Iota committed those mental mistakes.
“Different week, same story,” said Iota coach Neal Legé. “I thought we played hard; we fought.
“We keep making the same mistake, over and over, and we don’t correct it.
“You know we have some injury issues, this and that, and we’re trying to put in players here and there to fill holes, but that’s no excuse, we work on that all week long, they should know.”
“Our special teams and defense gave us some opportunities,” said Richardson. “We're still struggling, trying to put together the pieces on offense with all these injuries and with our youth. But, they just keep fighting hard and don't give up.”
The first capitalizing opportunity came in the first quarter. After trading punts, Iota quarterback would throw his first of two interceptions on the night, giving Welsh the ball at the Iota 16-yard line. On the next play, Kyvonte Eaglin scored on a 16-yard run with 6:55 remaining in the first. Coby Sammis’ extra point gave the Greyhounds an early 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Iota took more than 7 minutes to march 80 yards down the field for its first score of the game. The 17-play drive showed off the Bulldogs running game with 63 of the yards being gained on the ground. The drive was punctuated by a 17 yard catch by Kyle Smith, who was stopped just short of the goal line. It was back to the running game for Iota after the pass and Michael Thevis punched it in from less than a yard out with 3:49 remaining in the second. However, a mishandled snap did not give Iota the chance to tie the game, leaving Welsh with a one point lead.
Iota would score again in the second frame, with 2:17 remaining, the Bulldogs would get the ball back again and Nick Sloane would break off a 46-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. Iota would take a 14-7 on a two-point conversion pass from Lunson to Smith.
Welsh would almost immediately answer the bell with Greyhounds running back and linebacker Jermaine Washington returning the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Iota 23 yard line. The touchdown saving tackle came courtesy of Jarrette Fontenot, who serves as the kicker for the Bulldogs on kickoffs. The tackle would only prolong the inevitable it seemed, however, as Welsh’s Lane Giggar would score five plays later from 3 yards out. With Jude Pousson’s extra point true, the Greyhounds tied the game with only 37 seconds remaining in the half.
While the Bulldogs had firm grips on the stat sheet, the Greyhounds had already taken advantage of Iota’s miscues enough to keep in the game.
It would prove to be invaluable.
In the second half, the Greyhounds kept the Bulldogs off of the scoreboard and added nine points of its own; the first of which came via a touchdown off of another Iota mistake, Lunson’s second interception of the night. With 4:49 remaining in the third quarter, Washington scored from 32 yards out, on the first play from scrimmage. Sammis’ second extra point of the night was also true, giving the Greyhounds the 21-14 lead in the third.
Finally, late in the fourth quarter, with less than a minute remaining, a pack of Greyhounds defenders sacked Lunson in the end zone for a safety, allowing Welsh tack on two final points.
In a losing effort, the Bulldogs were led on the ground by Sloane (12 carries for 95 yards) and Thevis (16 carries for 49 yards), both of which had touchdowns on the evening, and Kenny Guillory (nine carries for 30 yards). Lunson finished his evening 2-9 for 32 yards, which was split between a 17-yard grab by Smith, and a 15-yard reception by Sam Reed.
Stepping in for their injured brethren, running backs Eaglin (13 carries for 47 yards) and Washington (three carries for 44 yards and two catches for 13 yards) were the offensive stars of the night and scored two of Welsh’s touchdowns on the ground. Running back Keshon Bell (17 carries for 53 yards and an 8-yard reception) added to the Greyhounds’ performance as well and getting his first start of the season, third-string quarterback Giggar finished the night with 31 yards in the air, completing five of his eight attempts and scored on a rushing touchdown.