About halfway through the third quarter, the Airline Vikings trailed Ruston by three and had first-and-goal at the Bearcats 5.
Three plays later, after a 5-yard loss and a sack, the Vikings were at the 33. When they missed a 40-yard field goal, the momentum swung back to Ruston.
Airline continued to hang with the Bearcats after that, but Ruston went on to claim a 24-10 victory at James Stadium.
Ruston and Airline are both 1-1 on the young season.
“We had opportunities really,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “We missed some opportunities to score. and the defense missed too many tackles in the second half. We just gave up too many big plays tonight.”
Airline’s Tyrice Neal made two big plays.
He scooped up a fumble and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown to give Airline a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
He also had an interception in the fourth quarter near midfield with 5:55 left in the game and Airline still trailing by only 16-10.
But the Vikings couldn’t capitalize and Ruston scored the insurance touchdown late.
After Neal’s fumble return, Ruston tied the game on a 65-yard quarterback keeper.
Airline had a touchdown erased by a penalty but kicked a field goal and led 10-7 at the half.
Ruston scored a touchdown in the third quarter and led 13-10 going into the fourth.
Meeks said the Vikings had a couple of nice drives in the third quarter that kept the defense off the field.
But the game was dominated by defense on both sides.
Airline finished with 118 total yards.
Chase Rivers completed nine of 24 passes for 75 yards.
Roderick Spurlock led the Vikings on the ground with 30 yards on 12 carries. Darrian Germany added 22 yards on three carries.
Shuncee Thomas was the top receiver with three catches for 35 yards. Germany had three for 22, and Spurlock had two for 14.
“I think the biggest thing we can take out of it is that we’ve got to do a better job during the course of the week,” Meeks said. “We’ve got to do a better job of preparation. We’ve just got to play better and not shoot ourselves in the foot.”