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Yellow Jackets slip by Gents

IOWA - Heading into Saturday’s season opener at Iowa, Crowley coach Jeptha Wall had his concerns.
And rightfully so.
A short week of practice due to Hurricane Harvey limited the Gents preparations for the sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets, a team that has advanced to the Class 3A quarterfinals the last two seasons.
Wall’s biggest worry, however, was how his special teams unit would perform after a handful of bad snaps and missed extra points in the jamboree.
Unfortunately, the Gents were unable to clean the mishaps up and it proved costly.
Iowa blocked an extra point and a bad snap on another point-after attempt resulted in a failed two-point run, enabling the Yellow Jackets to slip away with a 13-12 victory.
“We’re still having issues with the extra point,” said Wall. “Still having those special team flaws and that’s something we have to correct.”
Things started well for the Gents, who took an early lead thanks to a little trickery.
The Gents ran a reverse pass in which wideout Marquis Garrett connected with Chris Lewis on a 34-yard pass to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Donald Francis.
What followed was the first special teams mistake of the day.
An offsides penalty on the extra point attempt pushed the Gents back five yards and then Iowa’s Darius Daniels broke through the line and blocked the kick.
“We get pushed back and then we just forgot to block after that,” said Wall.
Another special teams mishap followed in the second quarter when a bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Yellow Jackets good field position and the hosts took advantage of their opportunity.
Senior quarterback Dyami Huntsberry hit Garren Richard in stride for a 43-yard touchdown strike. Jaren Dugas split the uprights on the extra point attempt and Iowa took a 7-6 advantage.
The Gents had a chance to retake the lead on their next offensive series , but an overthrown ball to a wide open Rapheus Joseph stalled the drive and forced a punt.
“They popped a big pass on us and got in, but we had a chance,” said Wall. “We get Tonkie (Joseph) open and we just don’t complete it. We needed to answer back right there and we just didn’t.”
Iowa added to its lead later in the second quarter when Jedd Self hit the endzone on a 5-yard run. The Yellow Jackets missed the extra point, however, and took a 13-6 advantage into the half.
The Gents had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter after a Garrett, who took over for an injured Paul Dugar at quarterback, hit Francis for an 8-yard touchdown.
Once again, another mistake on the extra point attempt left the Gents trailing.
A bad snap on the attempt forced holder Perry Myles to break for the endzone where he was stopped just shy of the goal line.
The Gents had one last opportunity to regain the lead when they got to midfield, but on fourth-and-7, Dugar, who re-entered the game under center, scrambled and ended just inches short of the first down with four minutes remaining.
The Yellow Jackets ran off nine plays after that before turning the ball over on downs with just nine seconds remaining.
The Gents’ last ditch effort was a screen pass to Lewis who lateraled back to Francis, but the Yellow Jackets snuffed out the play to end the game.
Offensively, the Gents mustered just 188 total yards. They picked up 138 yards on the ground on 35 carries and completed four of 14 passes for 50 yards.
Dugar was the leader on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards. Obadiah Butler added six carries for 35 yards, Keith Wilson had 23 yards on eight carries and Francis picked up 20 yards on six carries.
“They (Iowa) were spot on us, they had an answer for everything that we were trying to do,” said Wall. “I think they have three of their four returning starters on the offensive line and some good parts behind it.
“But I don’t think we did as well in the box as we had in the past few weeks.”
The Gents were equally as impressive on defense.
Crowley held Iowa’s potent offense to just 200 total yards and senior safety Josh Burnett, a first-year player, picked off Huntsberry twice.
“We played pretty well on defense,” said Wall. “I wasn’t sure if we could hold them down that much. The entire defense played really well. All together, I think we blew coverage on one little thing but that’s really the only hard mistake we made.
“Even when it wasn’t pretty, they were still jelling together enough to where we didn’t really let anything bust on us.”
Burnettl picked off a pass in the endzone to thwart a scoring opportunity for Iowa and added another pick later on a tipped ball.
“We got in a bind early and Josh stepped up and bailed us out,” said Wall of Burnett’s first quarter interception in the endzone. “It was nice to see him get in there and have some success.”
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Wall says there is plenty to take away from the game.
We did do a lot of good things out there,” said Wall. “That’s a good team (Iowa) that is well coached and well disciplined. There’s a lot of things to look at on film and build on.”
The road doesn’t get much easier for Wall’s group this week as they will entertain former district foe Westlake Friday at 7 p.m.
The Rams rolled up just over 350 yards on the ground and 79 in the air in a 28-14 victory over DeQuincy.

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