Sloppy conditions made for a sloppy game Friday night at Olympia Stadium, but Istrouma pulled through for a District 6-4A victory, knocking off Belaire, 32-13.
“This is a big win in our district,” said Istrouma coach Justin Joseph. “We have confidence now going into our other district games because of how well we played tonight.”
In a game that saw both teams commit 16 penalties for a combined 332 yards, the Indians offense was able to rely on the clutch play of junior quarterback Marquise Kaigler, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for one more, despite only completing four passes.
“It didn’t look like he won the game for us tonight on the stat sheet,” Joseph said of Kaigler. “But he won the game for us because he played methodical football.”
Kaigler was also the main force behind The Indians’ 177 rushing yards, leading the team with 82 on 12 carries.
On the other side, Belaire had trouble holding onto the ball in addition to the penalties.
Freshman quarterback Tyler Woods had trouble taking the snap all night, leading to three lost fumbles.
“Too many turnovers,” Belaire coach Keith Woods said. “We had our opportunities to make plays on offense, but we just kept finding a way to turn the ball over.”
Belaire put itself in a hole to begin the game when a snap sailed over the head of Joshua Coleman out of the wildcat. After a couple of failed attempts by Coleman to recover it cleanly, the ball was finally scooped up by Istrouma’s Javaris Washington, who ran it in for a 67-yard score, giving the Indians a quick 6-0 lead.
But Coleman answered on the ensuing kickoff, returning it into Istrouma territory. Junior fullback Joseph Morrison capped a 6-play, 28-yard drive with a 4-yard plunge into the endz one. A Dominique Dugas extra point gave the Bengals their first lead midway through the first quarter.
Belaire got good field position after sniffing out an Istrouma fake punt, giving the Bengal offense only 35 yards to another score — 33 of which were gained on a pass from Woods to Coleman.
But the turnover bug bit again as Woods could not handle the following snap, allowing Istrouma to quickly pounce on the loose ball for its second takeaway.
Istrouma took advantage as Kaigler marched the offense down the field with his arm, his legs, and a couple of timely Belaire penalties.
With the ball on the Bengals’ 27, Kaigler rolled to his left before throwing a ball into the end zone for tight end Aaron Hall, who bobbled it a few times before coming down with it for the score.
After another Bengal turnover, Kaigler and Hall connected again for an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the Indians up 18-7 with over six minutes to go in the second quarter.
Belaire answered with a 5-yard touchdown run by Coleman on a direct snap. Heading into halftime, The Bengals had outgained Istrouma 181 yards to 112, but three turnovers and 11 penalties for 107 yards had Woods’ team down 18-13 at the break.
“We came out and didn’t execute,” said Woods. “We were able to move the ball but we kept shooting ourself in the foot. That led to our downfall.”
The Belaire defense held firm to start the second half, forcing an Istrouma three-and-out. However, a 46-yard punt by Ricardo Gibson was downed at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Belaire’s Jeremy Barnes took a handoff from Woods and was met by Istrouma cornerback Justin Wilson for a safety.
Following another punt downed at the 1, the Indian defense one-upped itself as Woods fumbled his ninth snap of the night. Tiawan Dunomes pounced on the ball in the end zone for Istrouma’s second defensive score, increasing the lead to 26-13.
“I don’t like to punt,” Joseph explained. “But we are definitely good at it, and it worked for us.”
The Indians capped the scoring in the fourth quarter when Kaigler scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown.