DUTCHTOWN — East Ascension could not have gotten off to an uglier start in Friday’s visit to Dutchtown. It helps, however, that the Spartans have Jimel London and a shutdown defense on their sideline.

East Ascension used three electric London touchdown runs to climb out of a first-quarter hole and rally past the Griffins 28-18.

“We started slow, but our defense has been playing well all year. We just told them to stay the course and we wanted to play four quarters, so we told them we had to make up for that in three,” East Ascension coach Darnell Lee said. “And they did.”

London carried the ball just seven times, but the slippery runner made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 143 yards and the trio of scores. Meanwhile, the Spartans’ defense took control after Dutchtown quarterback Ben Mays’ 65-yard touchdown run on the Griffins’ second play from scrimmage.

Dutchtown’s offense accounted for 91 yards and four first downs after that play as the Spartans (5-1) caught up to and then pulled away from the Griffins (3-3). East Ascension also capitalized on three Dutchtown turnovers by turning them into a pair of touchdowns.

“We knew they’ve got a big, physical defensive front and that was going to be the issue,” Dutchtown coach Guy Mistretta said. “We were talking about, ‘Hey, you’ve got to generate some first downs, give our defense a break,’ and we weren’t able to do that. That’s a credit to those guys.”

London helped the Spartans roar into the lead with second-quarter touchdown runs of 48 and 50 yards, which, accompanied by Shedrick Smith’s 13-yard scoring catch, gave East Ascension a 21-12 halftime edge.

London added a 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Spartans up 28-12 before Dutchtown finally ended its scoring drought with Terry Matthews’ 4-yard touchdown grab with just 1:02 to play.

“We came out ready to go,” Mistretta said. “We took advantage of some opportunities and everything was going great. But in the second quarter, they put the ball in their game-changer’s hands, he’s dynamic, made a couple plays and then we didn’t respond very well. We’ve got to be able to respond better to that situation moving forward.”

The Griffins held a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Mays quickly made up for a penalty that brought back Noah Gray’s punt return touchdown with his 65-yard scoring run two plays later.

However, the Griffins were unable to do much with excellent field position after that. East Ascension held them to a 19-yard Cohen Parent field goal despite Dutchtown opening the drive at the Spartans’ 8-yard line thanks to a snap that sailed over East Ascension punter Cade Kernan’s head. The Griffins later moved the ball just nine yards after Van’Shon Grayson returned an interception to the Spartans’ 41, settling for a 40-yard Parent field goal.

That trend carried into the second half, too. The Griffins opened three of their seven second-half possessions in East Ascension territory, but mustered just one late touchdown.