Judging by the score alone, you’d think the Neville Tigers had an easy time of it in a 34-10 victory over the Airline Vikings Friday night in Monroe.
That was far from the case.
The Vikings fell behind 20-3 in the second quarter. But Shuncee Thomas’ 70-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter kept the Vikings within striking distance.
Neville got a little breathing room on Kevontae Turpin’s 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Tigers’ final TD came after the Vikings fumbled on a punt return.
Neville improved to 4-1. Airline dropped to 2-3.
As was the case against another Northeast Louisiana power, West Monroe, last week, turnovers and special teams played a big part in the loss.
Neville’s first touchdown was set up by a long punt return. The Tigers had to go only 15 yards for their third touchdown after a turnover.
Airline also lost a fumble on a kickoff return in the second half, but the Vikings defense held.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “The kids played hard. We had opportunities to get back in the game. Just every time we had that opportunity we made a mistake.”
Besides giving up a couple of big plays, including a 60-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter, the Airline defense turned in another solid performance.
Meeks said Nevile, a traditional state power, is as good as the Tigers’ No. 2 ranking suggests.
“They’re very good,” he said. “They’re athletic and well-coached and they took advantage of opportunities. But I was really pleased with our effort. We’re on the verge of being a very, very good football team. We just have to keep grinding and make some more plays and eliminate some mistakes.”
Junior quarterback Thomas McKain, who set out most of the second half of last week’s game with an ankle injury, threw a couple of interceptions. But Meeks was pleased with the way he handled the offense in just his second start.
After Neville’s first TD, McKain led the Vikings on a drive to a Nathan Naranjo field goal that took 7:19 off the clock. Airline reached the 2, but a penalty pushed the Vikings back.
“He did some really nice things,” Meeks said of McKain. “I think he’s doing a really good job of leading this team and doing what we’re asking him to. For a couple of games in I feel like he’s doing a really good job for us and he’s just going to continue to get better.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Vikings. They open District 1-5A play Thursday night against Byrd (5-0) at Lee Hedges Stadium. Byrd routed Lakeshore 50-3 Friday.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Meeks said. “It’s a chance in the first week of district to get in the driver’s seat so we’re going to go to work and get ready for a great week against Byrd.”
Block 12, Bossier 6: The Bossier Bearkats came very close to winning their first game of the season before falling to the Bears Friday night in Jonesville.
With block trying to run out the clock, Bossier stripped the ball and recovered at midfield with 37 seconds left. The Bearkats had a chance to tie it at the end but the Bears picked off a pass with 5 seconds left.
Bossier dropped to 0-5. Block improved to 1-4.
Both teams employed run-oriented offenses.
Bossier fell behind 12-0 in the first quarter, but the Bearkats defense kept the Bears at bay the remainder of the game.
Avery Jones’ 15-yard touchdown run got the Bearkats within six points with 5:28 left in the second quarter.
Turnovers have been a problem for Bossier all season and they were again Friday. The Bearkats forced two fumbles but fumbled the ball back to the Bears each time. A fumble led to Block’s first touchdown.
Bossier’s Marco Hill forced a fumble recovered by Isaiah McKinney in the third quarter.
Bossier also stopped Block at the Bearkats 20 early in the fourth quarter.
Bossier opens District 1-3A play in Springhill Friday night against North Webster (3-2) The Knights defeated Delhi 57-14 Friday.
–Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org