Westlake shuts out Iota in district action
For just over nine minutes, the game was a stalemate Friday night. For five minutes and 10 seconds, Iota was in complete control.
It was the remaining 33-34 minutes that was the problem, that and the 34-0 final in favor of Westlake.
“We reverted to the old Iota tonight,” said Bulldogs coach, Neal Legé.
And it all started with one play.
With 8:30 left in the second quarter, after driving 68 yards on second-and-9, the Bulldogs (0-7, 0-2 in district 4-3A) tried to pass. With pressure coming, Iota's Tim Lunson tried to throw the ball out of the end zone. Unfortunately for Iota, Rams senior Cameron LaFleur was there to make a play and caught the interception to set up the Rams' first touchdown drive, and it didn't take long. After a minute and 32 seconds and six plays, Westlake's Tyler Johnson ran the quarterback keeper for a 5-yard touchdown.
“That interception hurt us,” said Legé.
It was the moment the momentum shifted, but one more touchdown in the second quarter by Westlake (3-4, 1-1) would be enough to keep Iota out of the game.
The teams traded punts again and the Bulldogs still unable to answer lined up for a punt again, this time from midfield. At first it looked promising, a deep punt that Westlake returner muffed to the 7-yard line, then he turned the corner and ran, and ran, and ran for a 93-yard punt return touchdown.
“The punt return was a back-breaker,” said Legé. ““I thought we were doing a decent job until then. We had no real answer for their speed in space, but we were hanging in. Buth, them going up 14-0 before the half was killer.”
But according to Shawn Demeritt, Westlake coach, it's the type of plays LaFleur is always capable of making.
“(LaFleur's) a great player,” he said. “He does a lot for us, he plays several positions in the secondary and plays on the punt return team; he does a little bit of everything and he's the ultimate team player and those are the kids you just love coaching.
“We got a spark from that punt return. We got some key blocks. That really flipped the momentum our way, 14-nothing at halftime.”
And with Westlake getting the ball first in the second half, the Rams started right where they took off, scoring 20 more points in the third quarter. The first came quick, with 11:08 remaining via a 47-yard pass from Johnson to Keilynn Fradieu. The second came from an 8-yard Jamar Peltier run with 5:29 remaining in the quarter. Finally, with 38 seconds remaining in the third, Fradieu ran the ball in from 4 yards out.
Westlake's offense seemed to wake up after the Rams' first touchdown in the second quarter, but was fully on display in the third. Between the two quarters, Westlake went from dropping passes in the first quarter to making great plays to catch them. The Rams' running backs went from short yardage gains to big gains. And, Westlake went from not many points scored to four offensive touchdowns.
The Rams' blowout victory was just what the doctor ordered after losing to South Beauregard in its first district game of the week.
“We had a tough loss last week and we responded,” said Demeritt. “We practice better this week, that was the key, I thought.”
Meanwhile, for Iota, who came off big game play in its first district game of the year against Iowa, it was the exact opposite of their play the week prior. What was the same as the week before was another game of over 100 yards rushing for Adam Ardoin. Ardoin led all Bulldogs on offense with 121 yards on 31 carries. Nick Sloane added 10 carries for 45 yards, Michael Thevis added seven carries for 36 yards and Lunson added four carries for 6 yards. Lunson also went 1-3 in the air for 1 yard and an interception. Lunson's 1 yard pass went to Thevis.
Johnson finished his night 11-19 for 177 yards and a touchdown for the Rams. He also contributed 19 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Peltier finished his night with 12 carries for 82 yards on the ground and a catch for no gain, and Fradieu went 11-67 with a touchdown on the ground and 3-60 and a touchdown in the air. Adding to the 355 yards of total offense (split nearly down the middle with 178 yards rushing and 177 yards passing), were Michael Boudreaux, three carries for 8 yards; Jacory Washington, five catches for 71 yards; Drake Mott, a 45-yard catch; and Hunter Racca, a 1-yard catch.