Dutchtown coach Benny Saia has described his team’s play this season as “hot and cold.”
True to form, the Griffins went from stone cold to sizzling hot in just a matter of a few minutes in dismantling Woodlawn 31-14 in a District 5-5A opener at Panther Stadium on Friday night.
The district foes played to a scoreless draw through the first two periods, but Dutchtown came out of the locker room and pounded the Panthers with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Senior Alonzo Craighton certainly went from cold to hot as he took his first and only run of the game 85 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Craighton found a seam off left tackle and outran the Panthers secondary to paydirt to spark Dutchtown’s offensive blitz.
The Griffins (3-3, 1-0) gained 243 yards on the ground while quarterback Brandt Fritsche completed 7 of his 16 passing attempts for 167 yards and two interceptions. Fritsche entered the game with 593 passing yards.
Woodlawn (4-2, 0-1) was held in check by the Griffin defense and picked up just 102 yards on 27 rushing attempts. Quarterback Charles Brooks completed 17 of his 37 passing attempts for 204 yards and an interception. He added another 82 yards on the ground.
Saia said the key for Dutchtown’s offense was patience.
“They’re a blitzing, stunting defense and when they guess right, they make a good play. When they guess wrong, you make a good play,” he said. “You just have to be patient and keep plugging and eventually you’re going to bust one. We caught them stunting the other way and we popped one.”
The only popping for Dutchtown in the first half came in the form of turnovers.
The Griffins were on the move near the end of the first quarter, driving into Woodlawn’s red zone on the strength of a 32-yard completion from Fritsche to junior Cornelius Washington.
But three plays later, Fritsche failed to pull in a high snap and the Panthers recovered at their 10-yard line.
Fritsche’s next two pass attempts were picked off by Woodlawn’s senior cornerback Jontrell London and senior Ryan Williams.
The Panthers offense, however, was unable to capitalize.
Coach Brett Beard said the Panthers simply failed to control the line of scrimmage after coming off a very productive 51-0 win over Assumption last week.
“We were just getting whipped up front,” Beard said. “It was one of those good, old-fashioned, butt-whippings and we happened to be on the wrong end. When you get whipped up front, your quarterback starts pressing and getting happy feet and making poor decisions. We just have to get back to work.”
In the first half, Fritsche tried his best to get the ball to Washington, his leading receiver. He threw Washington’s way eight times in the half, completing two.
Saia decided to add a wrinkle to his offensive attack midway through the second quarter when he sent in junior quarterback Jared Sparks to spell Fritsche.
Sparks got the Griffins rolling with an eight-play drive inside Woodlawn’s 40-yard line. The drive stalled, however, as Sparks threw two straight incompletions on third and fourth downs.
Fritsche returned to the contest on the next series and guided the Griffins to another long offensive drive with completions to senior receiver Eric Washington of 13 and 32 yards.
Dutchtown traveled inside the Panther 25, but Fritsche was hurried by senior linebacker Andre Dixon and junior Troy Domino and his pass fell incomplete with one minute to play in the half.
Fritsche found Washington for a 52-yard touchdown and Kajuan Coleman added another score on a 15-yard run in the third quarter.
Woodlawn continues district play at East Ascension next Friday night while Dutchtown hosts Catholic High.