The Dutchtown Griffins traveled all the way to Ruston to face the Bearcats in Round 1 of the state playoffs and came away with a 31-17 win. The 15th-seeded Bearcats’ heads were sort of spinning early on — the 18th-seeded Griffins took the opening kickoff and drove for a touchdown as senior quarterback Jared Sparks took it in from the 2-yard line.

Both teams lined up for the kickoff as usual, but coach Benny Saia opted to surprise the Bearcats with one onside kick that was successful for the Griffins. Dutchtown drove down the field, setting up kicker Christian Carillo’s 37-yard field goal. The Griffins (8-3) scored 10 points before the Bearcats (6-5) ever touched the ball on offense.

Senior running back Fitell Bolding was the workhorse of the offense as he ran for 82 yards on 27 carries for a tough 3 yards per carry. Jared Sparks mopped up after Bolding as he scored all four Griffin touchdowns.

Next on the menu for the Griffins will be the No. 2-seeded Zachary Broncos (10-1) in the regional round of the 5A playoffs Friday night at home. The Griffins and Broncos get to do it all over again. Early in the season, the Broncos won a 44-34 shootout at Dutchtown.

The Griffins will rely on Bolding to set up the passing attack. Both quarterbacks started their careers at Dutchtown as quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. moved to Zachary and led the Broncos. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Dutchtown.

Gators extend playoff run

The St. Amant Gators used a balanced attack against the Covington Lions and came away with a convincing 36-21 win. The Gators (9-2) are seeded No. 10 and the Lions (6-5) were seeded No. 23.

St. Amant set the pace as they took their opening possession and went on a 66-yard drive that ended with a touchdown as senior quarterback Hayden Mallory hit receiver Tanner Mayo with an 11-yard strike and took a 7-0 lead.

The remainder of the first quarter was scoreless, but the Lions answered early in the second quarter as quarterback Joshua Alfaro hit receiver Tyson Blanks with a 66-yard touchdown pass.

The Gators responded with a two-play scoring drive when Nathan Taylor ran for a 65-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead. Covington tied it up at 14 with a touchdown on its next possession. The Lions lost their second fumble of the half and Briggs Bourgeois hit a 40-yard field goal to give the Gators a 17-14 advantage at the half.

Covington took their first lead of the night on their first possession of the third quarter. They went on a 13-play, 80-yard drive as Austin Schexnayadre punched it in from the 2-yard line for the score and a 21-17 lead. The Gators responded again with a 70-yard drive as Taylor took it in from the 13-yard line for a 23-21 score and secured the lead for good.

With the score 23-21 late in the fourth quarter, Taylor put the icing on the cake as he returned a Covington punt 52 yards for a touchdown. The Gators scored once more to end the game with a 36-21 win.

The Gators will travel to Boutte to face the No. 7-seeded Hahnville Tigers (8-3) in the regional state playoffs on Friday at 7 p.m.

Spartans lose to John Ehret

The East Ascension Spartans ended their football season in Marrero on Nov. 13 as No. 9-seeded John Ehret crushed the No. 24 Spartans in its Class 5A playoff opener. Things started out even as Spartans quarterback Kyran Irvin and Ira Washington combined on a 64-yard touchdown in the first quarter to tie the score 7-7.

The rest of the night, things went downhill for the Spartans (5-6) as the Patriots went on a scoring spree and put 32 unanswered points on the board.

All three 5-5A teams in the parish made the playoffs. Congrats to the Spartans, the Gators and the Griffins.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.