Originally created 11/30/02

Patriots take risk, lose big

DUBLIN, Ga. - Tony LeZotte had to make the gamble, even though his team was losing by just four points.

Dublin's Wing-T rushing offense was shredding Westside's defense, so LeZotte, the Patriots' free safety, did what he could to smother the attack.

He moved within two or three yards of the line of scrimmage, and immediately Fighting Irish coach Roger Holmes called for a play-action pass.

The result was a 77-yard pass over LeZotte's head on the third play of the third quarter - the latest sign Westside's season would end at the Shamrock Bowl.

Dublin quarterback Quintez Smith threw for 151 yards - including a 50-yard touchdown strike - and four Fighting Irish running backs combined to rush for 293 yards and four touchdowns to lead Dublin to a 41-16 win against the Patriots on Friday in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.

"LeZotte is a super football player, but his aggressiveness hurt him on that play," Dublin coach Roger Holmes said. "We moved it so well on the ground, and he gambled."

Even so, the Fighting Irish proved for most of the game that they was the superior football team anyway.

Running back Brian Wallace rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries, and Brandon Stephens (10 carries, 56 yards), Erik Walden (9 carries, 57 yards, touchdown) and Jeremy Edwards (5 carries, 80 yards) did their part as well.

"The Wing-T is known for its misdirection," Patriot defensive end Nick McKenzie said. "We had a hard time keeping track of the ball."

It showed as the Fighting Irish (12-0), who gained 21 first downs and didn't punt all game, moved the ball at will.

"We had concerns they could do that," said Westside coach Gerald Barnes, whose team finished the season 9-3. "They just did a good job. They've got a lot of skill people, and we couldn't match up with them."

Once Dublin began scoring points in droves, the Patriot offense couldn't keep up.

In his final high school game, running back Aundra Ellison picked up 83 yards and a score on 19 carries, while junior fullback Duane Gregg notched a touchdown and 41 yards on nine carries.

It wasn't nearly enough.

"We had spurts of a running game," Barnes said. "But we got sacked a couple times, and they covered (Westside's receivers) pretty good. But the difference in the game is that we didn't stop their offense."

Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or josh.katzowitz@augustachronicle.com.


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