When asked how important Landon Collins is to his team, Dutchtown coach Benny Saia gave a frustrated look.
“Do I even have to answer that?” Saia said. “Landon’s special.”
Behind the safety/running back, Dutchtown (9-0) strutted to an early lead and held on late for a 41-28 win against McKinley (3-6) on Friday at McKinley.
Collins accounted for three touchdowns - a 59-yard run, a 75-yard kickoff return and a 59-yard interception return.
“Collins did everything they said he’d do,” Signater said. “He’s everything they say he is. We couldn’t afford to be behind two touchdowns to the No. 2 team in the state.”
Collins rushed for 99 yards on four carries, and the Griffins racked up 168 yards on 30 carries as a team. Quarterback Mason Nickens connected on 5-of-8 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Alec Osborne.
Collins started early. On the Griffins’ fourth play from scrimmage, Collins sprinted through the left side of the line and raced 59 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Sarrazin’s kick put Dutchtown up 7-0.
After a McKinley three-and-out, the Griffins embarked on a 10-play, 61-yard drive culminated by a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nickens to Osborne. Sarrazin was perfect again, boosting the Dutchtown lead to 14-0.
Both teams were quiet until McKinley linebacker Brendan Willis stepped in front of a Nickens pass, setting up the Panthers at the Dutchtown 20-yard line.
Five plays later, Marvin Batiste barreled into the end zone from 2 yards out. Jourdan Robinson’s quarterback sneak closed the gap to 14-8.
It wouldn’t get any closer than that.
“In 1:58 they score touchdowns,” Signater said. “That’s the luck we’ve been having, man. I don’t know why. That’s the way it is.”
Collins struck again on the ensuing kickoff, taking the ball 75 yards to the end zone for a score. The touchdown widened the Dutchtown lead to 20-8.
On the next drive, Collins took advantage of a tipped pass and ran 55 yards the other way for a score. Sarrazin’s point after pushed the Griffins lead to 27-8.
The Griffins piled it on in the third, started by Nickens’ second touchdown pass to Osborne, this one an 18-yard slant in traffic. Sarrazin was good again, giving his team a 34-8 lead.
On its next possession, Dutchtown remained methodical, driving 37 yards in seven plays. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown burst from running back Antoine Magras. Sarrazin’s extra point was the last point the Griffins scored.
With a 41-8 lead, Dutchtown seemed to relax a bit, and McKinley took advantage.
Creshawn Odell’s 2-yard touchdown rumble pulled the Panthers closer at 41-14. A pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Jarred Hayes to Odell created the final score.
Saia, though happy with the win, was clearly displeased after.
The Griffins fumbled twice, threw an interception and let the Panthers jump on an onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
“I was glad to win,” Saia said. “I thought we made enough mistakes for the whole season. I’m tired of saying that. I don’t know what else to do.”