Second half surge propels LaGrange past Crowley
LAKE CHARLES – On a night when they needed to be perfect, the Crowley Gents were anything but.
The Gents struggled to finish drives on offense, their defense was spotty at best and their special teams play was pretty much non-existent.
The result was a humbling 52-27 loss to the LaGrange Gators in a pivotal District 4-4A showdown.
“They (LaGrange) just whipped us, no ifs, ands or buts about it; they whipped us,” said CHS coach Josh Fontenot, whose squad suffered its worst loss of the season and fell to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in league play. “They wanted it more and they just beat us.”
When all was said and done, the Gators (2-5, 2-1) had gashed the Gents’ defense for 420 yards of total offense, including 144 yards and four touchdowns (5, 15, 15, 18) through the air.
In addition, the Gators set up two of their touchdowns courtesy of long kickoff returns - 74 and 42 yards - and blocked a CHS punt to set up another scoring drive.
“We didn’t do much right on defense tonight and our special teams were horrible,” said Fontenot. “In fact, our special teams play was embarrassing. We were doing our own thing and not playing assignment football; we were not doing what we were coached and not what we strive to do.”
“This was the first time all year that I think we played undisciplined defense and it showed.”
It certainly did - from the start.
The Gators struck for three touchdowns in the first half, the first being a 16-yard pass from Quindon Barry to Jaylun Myles.
That touchdown occurred two plays after Myles returned a kickoff 74-yards following a 36-yard touchdown pass by the Gents from quarterback Pate Broussard to Terrell Thomas.
The Gents were able to answer with a 14-play, 77-yard drive that was capped off by a 7-yard run by Broussard on a quarterback keeper. But the extra point was wide, leaving the Gents clinging to a 13-8 advantage.
Just as quickly, the Gators responded, putting together a five-play drive that resulted in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Barry to Alvinosky LaFleur with 9:26 left in the half. The drive was aided by 24-yard run by Tyler Guillory.
The Gents had a chance to regain the lead when they received the ball with 2:11 left in the half. But three quick incompletions forced a CHS punt.
Again, special teams play faltered and the punt was blocked.
The Gators quickly took advantage of the gift and following on offsides penalty on Crowley, Barry hit Myles on a 14-yard pass, and followed that up with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Markell Hawthorne to give the Gators a 20-13 advantage heading into the intermission.
For the Gents, it was a half that could have been much better had they not squandered two potential scoring drives that resulted in turnovers on downs, one at the LHS 26 and the second at the 30.
On both of those drives, the Gents had procedure penalties that turned third- and-short situations into third-and-longs.
“We had some penalties that hurt us, of course,” said Fontenot. “We were moving the ball and running the ball well. You can’t go from third-and- two to third-and-seven. These guys (Gators) are too good.
“That was two more scoring opportunities right there and you have to score. If you do, it’s a different game.”
The Gators’ momentum carried over into the second half when LaFleur took the opening kickoff back 42 yards to set LaGrange up at the Gents’ 37-yard line.
Three plays later, Guillory broke free on a 15-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 27-17.
The Gents suffered back-to-back turnovers on their next two possessions, the first an interception and the second a fumble.
That fumble gave the Gators the ball at their own 40-yard line and they capitalized three plays later when Markell Hawthorne busted through the heart of the Gents’ defense for a 52-yard touchdown run.
“We thought coming into the game that we could run the ball on them and in the second half, our running backs started making things happen for us,” said LaGrange coach Jules Sullen.
The Gents cut the lead to two scores (33-20) at the end of the third quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by Chris Lewis (144 yards, one TD) but the Gators answered once again.
This time, they marched 77 yards before Hawthorne took a direct snap and raced 10 yards for a touchdown.
The Gents scored their final touchdown with just over seven minutes remaining in the game when Broussard connected with Thomas on a 24-yard touchdown pass.
The Gators added another touchdown on a 15-yard pass to Alphonse Ardoin and then recovered an onside kick which led to a 27-yard scoring run by Guillory.
“We were not a very cohesive unit tonight defensively,” said Fontenot. “Offensively, we had three turnovers on the night. I think that puts us at 20 on the season. If you turn the ball over 20 times in seven games, you’re lucky your record is 4-3.”
Offensively, the Gents were able to rack up 359 yards and 20 first downs on the night against a vaunted Gators’ defense. Their 27-point performance was the most points anyone in district has scored on LaGrange. thus far.
“Defensively, they (LaGrange) are probably the best-coached team we’ve played,” said Fontenot. “Their athletes are extremely good and they are good up front. To be honest with you, I didn’t think we’d get 27. I was shocked. I don’t think anybody in our district has scored that many points on them.
“I’m proud of our offensive line and our running backs for what we did.”
Lewis led the Gents’ ground attack with 132 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. Ty’Von Griffin added 79 yards on 17 carries and Broussard picked up 51 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Broussard also completed seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, both to Thomas, who had two receptions for 60 yards
Hawthorne paced the Gators rushing attack with 17 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns while Guillory had 12 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Barry was more than efficient through the air, completing 12 of 13 pass attempts for 144 yards and four touchdowns.
“We just didn’t play well tonight,” said Fontenot. “They are good and they beat us. They whipped us. They are a great football team that played an outrageously hard schedule and they are going to win some games and make a run in the playoffs. I just feel that this was our worst performance of the year.”