Hosting Dunham pulls away from NIHS Bears in second half

Tryve Brackin

Class A North Iberville High gave hosting 2-A Dunham School all it could handle in the first half of their non-district football game last Thursday night in Baton Rouge. But the second half belonged to the hosts as they doubled their scoring and held the local Bears scoreless over the final two periods to win by a 42-12 score.

The local Bears seemed fresh and ready to compete as they bounced back quickly from an initial Dunham Tiger score in the first quarter, tying the game at 6-6. Neither defensive unit seemed quite able to stop the offensive attacks, and, it remained that way through most of the first half of football. Dunham took a touchdown lead by halftime, 21-12. But the final two stanzas were much different. NI continued to move the ball on offense, but could not punch in another score the remainder of the game. Dunham, in the meantime, worked up steam offensive and finished with a rush of 14 points in the final stanza to turn a close game at halftime into a 30-point rout by the final horn.

Mistakes plagued both teams, but North ended up with four costly turnovers that kept them from scoring more than twice despite almost 400 yards of offense. Dunham, in the meantime, committed no costly turnovers, but often helped the Bear offense along, or stopped their own momentum, with a whopping 14 penalty flags and 125 minus yards.

The Bear defense actually had the Tigers corralled and ready for slaughter several times only to have sophomore DHS quarterback Tyler Moore pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. Moore shredded an equally young Bear secondary for 315 yards in the air, several times by hitting big passes for first downs, or touchdowns, on third or fourth and long situations. The NIHS defense simply could not close down on one final play of a drive. At the same time, the Bear offense could not close on a couple of drives deep into DHS territory as they mounted yard stripes, but very few points on the board.

The game opened with NIHS stopping the Dunham offense and forcing a punt. The Bear offense got going immediately with quarterback Stephen Williams hitting Casey Toussant with a pair of long first-down passes. The two linked up a third time for an apparent 21-yard TD strike, but the referees flagged the Bears for holding, calling back the play. On the next play, Williams attempted to force a throw and Dunham picked it off and quickly marched down the field for the night’s first touchdown on a series of runs through the porous Bear defense that set up the first of five TD passes by Moore. He connected with Colin Ellis on a 32-yard pass play.

The locals’ offense rallied right back to score and tie the game at 6-all when Williams hit Toussant yet again on a long pass. The senior receiver went 56 yards for the score with 2:30 left in the first quarter.

Resembling a football-themed pinball machine, the Tiger offense got right back into the scoring act. Dunham took in the kickoff and marched 55 yards, mostly on rushes, to take a 14-6 lead. The scoring play did come on a screen pass from 21 yards out. It would be Moore’s second TD throw of the evening.

The pinball game continued. North took in the ensuing kickoff and went to work with senior running back Nikita Woolfolk doing the bulk of the work. He had a pair of 20-plus-yard runs to set up a short 2-yard dive for the second NIHS score, cutting the DHS lead to 14-12.

The Bear defense then went through one of its most frustrating series on the field. A couple of times in the DHS scoring drive, the Bears had the hosts down to third or fourth and long situations, only to give in.

The Tigers made it 21-12 on a Moore pass of 29 yards to Aaron Johnson on a fourth and nine situation. The Bears showed little pass rush and poor pass coverage for much of the remainder of the game.

Still, the Bear offense would continue to mount yardage. North came very close to scoring a third TD in the first half when runs by Woolfolk and Williams picked up key yardage. Williams had a big fourth-down keeper carry, but, on the very next play, threw an interception in the end zone to end the threat and the first half.

Although NIHS was behind by nine points, their stats were very close to the hosts. Dunham had 281 yards of offense in the first half, while NIHS had 231.

The Iberville club took possession at the 45 after a poor kickoff by Dunham, and, again, the Bears flirted with scoring points. Woolfolk and Williams combined to run for a first down and then Woolfolk broke free on a 26-yard scamper down to the DHS 9-yardline. A big sack and an incomplete pass put the Bears in a hole and on fourth and 11 Williams was picked off a second time near the goal.

Each time the Bears made a mistake the Tigers feed off of it. Dunham hit on a 40-yard pass and later on a 20-yard pass from Moore to Johnson for a TD, pushing to a comfortable 28-12 lead.

As a North Iberville mom yelled out “Don’t hurt my baby!” the Bears moved the football yet again, but also, again, for no scoring success. Runs by Williams and Woolfolk, a pass to Tred James, and a pass interference flag on DHS put the Bears down deep into DHS territory. The Bears, however, could not score. A sack by DHS’ Grant Barkas put the NIHS offense out of striking distance.

Once the Tigers took possession of the ball, they scored quickly on two long pass plays. Moore fired his fifth and final TD pass 39 yards to Dantrall Butler to make it a 35-12 score.

Dunham would tally one more time as backup RB Connor Duplessis tallied on a 31-yard off tackle run to seal the 42-12 victory for the Baton Rouge hosts.

North slipped to 0-2 and continued to look a game behind the eight ball due to a hurricane-caused late season start. The Bears have quickness at the skill positions and size on the line, but struggled to finished off positive yardage drives with points and were unable to stop Dunham’s big play offense.

After battling two a bit above average foes (Christian Life and Dunham) the Bears face fellow Single A neighbor False River Academy, a team they handled easily in the FRA jamboree a few weeks back. The New Roads Gators visit Rosedale for the non-district 1-A contest tomorrow (Friday) night.