House call: Dunham’s QB closes door on Calvary’s season

CORDIAL START:  Team captains met at midfield Friday night as Calvary Baptist visited Dunham School in a playoff quarterfinal. (Photo by REED DARCEY, Journal Sports)

By REED DARCEY, Journal Sports

BATON ROUGE — A light rain fell over the Dunham School Stadium as the lights began to flicker Friday night in Baton Rouge. One voice lifted over the crowd’s nervous murmurs. 

“Let’s warm up,” exclaimed the home team’s hero.

That voice belonged to Jackson House, the son of LSU’s first-year defensive coordinator, more notably the quarterback of the fourth-seeded Dunham Tigers, who defeated Calvary Baptist in a Select Division III LHSAA quarterfinal game that had it all. High stakes, a muddy field, a slight rain, lots of points, some explosive plays … and yes, a power outage. 

Dunham’s stadium plunged into darkness as soon as the Tigers took their 50-35 lead early in the fourth quarter. Yes, at that moment, the lights shut off. On both the game and Calvary Baptist’s season. The Cavs made a late push but couldn’t change the score again.

“We played hard, and these guys won a bunch of games in the last four years,” Calvary coach Rodney Guin said. “Tonight, they were a little bit better than us. And that’s what happens when you get this deep in the playoffs.”

House’s fearless runs up the middle led the Tigers over the Cavaliers. He took 30 carries for 177 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 14 of his 22 pass attempts for another 190 yards and a score. When Dunham chose to call designed quarterback runs in the second half, House seized control. 

“We threw the ball pretty well,” Guin said, “but we had a couple of chances to score and we didn’t. Their offensive line wore us down and the quarterback was Superman in the fourth quarter.”

Once the lights turned back on, Calvary had a chance to move within one score. Under heavy pressure on 4th-and-15, quarterback Abram Wardell completed a pass to Aubrey Hermes over the middle to extend their drive. Then, he stood in the pocket, took a hit and fired another deep pass to Hermes, this one down the right sideline for 29 yards. 

Then, two plays later, Dunham intercepted Wardell, sending the home crowd into a frenzy, ending hopes of a miraculous comeback. 

“Heck, if we go down and score right there the last time we had it,” Guin said, “it’s a one-score game with three minutes left. But yeah, we competed hard, and we can feel good about that.”

The loss was frustrating for the Cavaliers, who seemed destined for better things.

Calvary jumped out to an early two-score lead with a couple of quick drives. Kolby Thomas caught the first touchdown from 12 yards out, and James Simon ran in the second from the three-yard line. Meanwhile, Dunham punted on two of its first three drives. 

But then a sack forced Calvary to punt from deep in its own territory. Dunham scored on the next drive, then the Cavaliers fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Suddenly, the Cavaliers’ two-score lead was gone, and the game was tied. The teams swapped TDs before the visitors made another move.

Wardell set up his offense near the Tigers’ goal line with a 24-yard run down the left sideline. Simon capitalized with a one-yard touchdown plunge, and Calvary was back on track with a 28-21 halftime lead. 

But Dunham adjusted at halftime. Maybe the Tigers made schematic changes. Or perhaps they just decided to put the game in their best athlete’s hands. Either way, their change in approach was clear. Eighteen of House’s 30 carries came in the second half. 

The Calvary offense simply couldn’t keep up. After scoring 28 points in the first half, the Cavaliers tallied only seven more.

“They kind of whipped us up front. We had a hard time slowing them down,” Guin said. “We played hard. We didn’t make enough plays and we couldn’t stop them from running that ball.

“We only start four seniors, so we’ll have a great football team next year,” Guin said. “And we’re gonna build from this and understand that in the quarterfinals you’ve got to play your best game or you’re not gonna win, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Contact Reed at reed.darcey@gmail.com 

Dunham 50, Calvary 35

Score by quarters

Dunham – 7 | 14 | 21 | 8 | – 50

Calvary – 14 | 14 | 7 | 0 | – 35

Scoring summary

C – Kolby Thomas 12 pass from Abram Wardell (Garrett Little kick)

C – James Simon 3 run (Little kick)

D – Brandon Drago 35 pass from Jackson House (Hayden Harman kick)

C – Aubrey Hermes 12 pass from Wardell (Little kick)

D – Mason Wild 4 run (Harman kick)

D – House 5 run (Harman kick)

C – Simon 1 run (Little kick)

D – Thomas 4 run (Harman kick)

D – House 1 run (Harman kick)

C – Julius Moss 20 run (Little kick)

D – House 25 run (Harman kick)

D – House 6 run (Laramie Guidry pass from House)

Individual leaders

Rushing 

Calvary (29-157) – Moss 5-56-1 TD, Simon 14-52-2 TD, Wardell 9-43. 

Dunham (47-254) – House 30-177-4 TD, Mason Wild 8-41-2 TD, Colin Boldt 9-36.

Passing 

Calvary – Wardell 19-27-1-225, 2 TDs.

Dunham – House 14-22-0-190, 1 TD.

Receiving  

Calvary – Aubrey Hermes 5-80-1 TD, Kolby Thomas 5-33-1 TD, Chris Jackson 3-23, John Simon IV 2-22, Simon 2-10, Xavier Mcglothan 1-9. 

Dunham – Jac Comeaux 5-106, Brandon Drago 1-35-1 TD, Wild 2-15, Drew Bourgeois 2-12, Trevor Haman 1-10, Boldt 1-3, Collin Franta 1-1.