DUTCHTOWN — After sweating for more than two hours, Lutcher High football coach Tim Detillier was brought to tears.
The admiration Detillier had for his team’s 20-19 comeback victory over Dutchtown was evident during an emotional postgame speech, having to stop several times to compose himself in the middle of a joyous huddle.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Detillier said. “They overcame a lot. I feel like I played the game.”
Lutcher, the No. 9 team in Class 3A, trailed 12-0 at halftime and wiped out a seven-point deficit with a touchdown and successful two-point conversion with 3:29 to play in its season opener Friday at Dutchtown’s Griffin Stadium.
Dutchtown had one final opportunity, moving from its own 29-yard line to Lutcher’s 25 but quarterback Jared Sparks’ lost possession of the ball on a scramble which Rashaun Preston recovered with 19 seconds remaining.
The Griffins lost three fumbles in the second half and four of five for the game.
“My kids played hard, and I think we’re going to be a good football team,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said. “I just hope their strong enough mentally not to let one game ruin their whole season.”
Lutcher quarterback Jontre Kirklin scored all three of his team’s touchdowns, including a pair of runs in the third quarter and drawing his team to within 19-18 on a 10-yard run up the middle on second down.
With the Bulldogs offense on the field, Kirklin took the snap, stepped toward the line of scrimmage, allowing Dylan Recotta to clear, and spotted him wide open on a jump pass made famous by former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
“We had worked on it all week,” Detillier said. “If it wasn’t covered right, we were going to kick. We knew what we were doing. Everyone on the sideline did, and it was a matter of executing the play and they executed to perfection.”
Lutcher maintained possession on the go-ahead score when Dutchtown’s David Cooper intercepted but lost possession during the return, which the Bulldogs recovered at the Griffins’ 12 with 3:57 showing.
“If he just falls down, we win the game,” Saia said. “They’re kids, and they’re trying to make plays. I can’t fault them for that.”
Dutchtown registered four first downs on its final possession, reaching Lutcher’s 25-yard line with under a minute to play. Three plays later Sparks, a Southern Miss commitment, lost the handle on the ball nearing a first down.
Running back Fitell Bolding led Dutchtown with 14 carries for 125 yards with a 36-yard touchdown that gave his team a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.
Sparks capped a six-play, 68-yard drive a series later with a 13-yard, keeper but an unsuccessful two-point pass attempt left the score 12-0 at halftime.
Lutcher, which gained 170 of its 265 yards in the second half, tied the game at 12-all on consecutive scoring drives in the third quarter with Kirklin scoring both times from 3 yards out.
Kirklin accounted for 234 yards; completing 13 of 28 passes for 161 yards and adding an additional 73 yards on 19 attempts. Wide receiver Al’Dontre Davis caught nine passes for 87 yards.
“This was a great game,” Detillier said. “They ought to be collecting on the way out. Boy, did the fans get their money’s worth.”