METAIRIE — Dutchtown made it interesting for top-seeded Rummel in the fourth quarter Friday.
Just not interesting enough.
Dominated for the first three periods, the Griffins came to life on Steven Bright’s 43-yard touchdown pass and then recovered a fumble on what would have been a first-down run by Raiders’ quarterback Damian Williams with 5:12 left.
But after reaching the Rummel 20, Dutchtown’s dreams died there when Dwayne Eugene picked off a Bright pass at his 6 and returned to the visitors’ 44 to seal his team’s 21-10 victory in their Class 5A regional round playoff game Joe Yenni Stadium.
“Our kids never quit,” Dutchtown coach Denny Saia said. “They’re a game bunch and hung in there.
“It’s hard to come back when you’re down 21-3 against a team like Rummel. They just battled to the end.”
Rummel (11-0) advances to the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years in Monroe next Friday against Ouachita, a 27-18 winner against Ruston.
Before Friday, no one had played the Raiders closer than 21 points since a 14-3 victory over Denham Springs on Sept. 21, including Lafayette, which fell 49-7 last week.
And until the fourth quarter, Dutchtown looked like another team that couldn’t stop the Raiders’ combination of quarterback Damian Williams keying a solid ground game and a small but active defense.
But after taking possession at the Rummel 48 following a short punt, the Griffins got the big play they had been looking for when Bright, who had entered the game in the third quarter after starter Mason Nickens had suffered an ankle injury went to Yamaury Velez, who broke away from his man for a 43-yard TD with 7:52 left.
Rummel looked ready to clinch the victory on the next series when Williams fumbled at the Dutchtown 38 with Justin Sampson recovering, setting the stage for the late dramatics.
“This was a second-round playoff game against a very good, experience team,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “Things are supposed to get tough in the playoffs, and they did for us tonight.
“We haven’t had a tough night like this since the Denham Springs game. Maybe it will help us next week because we know it won’t be any easier as we go along.”
Rummel put together touchdown drives on its first possession of both the first and second halves and added another just before halftime.
Dutchtown had a chance to counter the Raiders’ opening score on its initial possession when the Griffins drove from their 20 to a first-and-goal at the 6.
But Nickens was stopped for a 1-yard gain as was Torrance Mosley on second down.
Nickens’ third-down pass intended for Shelby Christy was incomplete, and the Griffins had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Sarrazin.
As it turned out, the Dutchtown would not penetrate past the Rummel 38 until the fourth quarter.
“We lost our quarterback, and that hurt,” Saia said. “And our defense played an outstanding game.
“Rummel is No. 1 for a reason.”
The Griffins got 144 combined passing yards from Nickens and Bright, but had only 77 on the ground, including a 19-yard carry by Sarrazin when Rummel did not rush his punt, leaving him an open field.
Williams carried the load for Rummel, gaining 79 yards on 23 carries and also throwing for 112.
He scored Rummel’s first touchdown on a 2-yard keeper on a fourth-and-1 play and threw to Cethan Carter for an 8-yard TD for the Raiders’ final score.
But he also was kicking himself over the late fumble which kept Dutchtown’s hopes alive.
“I was just trying to get some extra yardage and they did a good job of ripping the ball out,” Williams said. “I knew I could depend on our defense.
“Tonight was humbling. We got a good test tonight, but we pulled it off.”
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