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Mistake-prone Bulldogs eke out 23-15 victory over Wossman

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  • Feature Story
  • Game Recap
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • November 19, 2016 - 1:04am

File photosSeveral Lutcher defenders wrap up Wossman quarterback Zach Smith (3) in the Bulldogs' 23-15 triumph over the Wildcats in the Class 3A playoffs Friday.

Friday was just one of those kinds of games for a team in a quest for a state championship.

Lutcher, the defending state champs, didn’t look like a championship-caliber team with numerous turnovers and mistakes, but in the end, the Bulldogs came away with a 23-15 victory over Wossman to advance to the Class 3A quarterfinals.

“Sometimes good football teams don’t play their best,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “Two things we talked about all week long is that the thing they (the Wildcats) have been able to feed on all year long was turnovers and we turned it over three times so we finished minus-two in the turnover game. We talked about not making mistakes and extending drives and we had two penalties that extended drives that led directly to nine points.

“We know we didn’t play our very best. Wossman played a great game and had a great game plan and was able to slow the game down and was forcing us into some low-percentage throws and we didn’t hit on them.”

Lutcher, the No. 4 seed, will host Marksville next Friday. Marksville, the No. 5 seed, advanced with a 38-22 win Thursday over Carroll, the No. 12 seed.

Mistakes were costly for Lutcher from the very beginning of its game against Wossman but the Bulldogs still managed a 14-9 lead at halftime.

The first big mistake came on Lutcher’s opening possession of the game.

A punt pinned Lutcher at its own 2-yard line but three-straight runs by quarterback Jontre Kirklin gave the Bulldogs a little breathing room at their own 17. Two plays later, Kirklin completed a short pass to Tariq Belvin. Belvin fumbled after making the catch, with Wossman’s Julien Jones scooping up the ball and racing 30 yards for a touchdown. A missed extra point by Nick Traylor left the Wildcats with a 6-0 lead at the 6:33 mark of the first quarter.

Belvin quickly tried to make amends, returning the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the Wossman 35. Facing fourth down from the 30, Kirklin scrambled to his left to buy more time before finding Jacoby Williams in the back of the end zone. Alec Bland’s extra point gave Lutcher a 7-6 edge with 2:22 left in the opening quarter.

Another Lutcher mistake cost the Bulldogs the lead.

Lutcher forced Wossman into a punting situation from the Wildcats’31, but an illegal participation penalty against the Bulldogs gave Wossman a first down. It took Wossman another 11 plays but Traylor made up for his extra-point miss with a 30-yard field goal for a 9-7 Wildcats lead at the 6:44 mark of the second quarter.

Lutcher gained the lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass when Gregory Clayton dove into the end zone to put the Bulldogs on top 14-9 with 2:01 left before halftime.

The Bulldogs were looking for more in the closing moments of the second quarter but a pass by Kirklin from the Wossman 36 was picked off in the end zone with slightly more than 30 seconds in the half.

Lutcher got the ball to start the second half but was unable to generate any offense.

“At the start of the second half, we kind of banged up at receiver and really need for us to rely on running the ball and they forced us into a three-and-out and we knew we would be in for a back-and-forth game for the rest of the night,” Jenkins said.

Lutcher took advantage of a pass interference call and a 20-yard tackle-breaking run by Kirklin to march 63 yards for a touchdown. Williams capped the drive with a 1-yard dive for a 21-9 lead at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter.

An intentional grounding call against Wossman quarterback Zach Smith from the end zone led to a safety, extending Lutcher’s lead to 23-9.

Wossman made the final 23-15 with a touchdown in the final six minutes of the game. A pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs on third-and-long kept the possession going before the Wildcats scored on fourth-and-10 to cap the drive.

“We weren’t very sharp,” Jenkins said. “I think we finished 7 for 17 passing. We’ve got to do better than that to have some success. It forced us; from what (the Wildcats) were doing, to be able to run the ball. Our running backs struggled to run the ball. We had to use Jontre (as a runner) to get an extra blocker. When we struggle to throw the football, we can’t force guys to get out the box and we have to run it with the quarterback to get an extra hat on an extra defender.”

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.