High school football: Airline drops Natchitoches Central in 1-5A opener

1533
Randy Brown/Press-Tribune

The Airline Vikings used a strong defensive effort to defeat the Natchitoches Central Chiefs 21-7 in a District 1-5A opener Friday night at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium.

Airline improved to 3-1, equaling its win total of last season. Natchitoches Central dropped to 1-3.

“Defensively we played great all night,” Airline head coach Bo Meeks said. “We gave up one big play. Other than that I thought we really did a great job of shutting them down.”

Airline started fast, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Alex Garcia to Kevin Pouncy just over three minutes into the game. Garcia also hit Devin Bilbo for 40 yards on the drive.

A few minutes later, Garcia connected with Daniel Smith for a 5-yard TD. The drive started after the Vikings recovered a fumble at the Chiefs 47.

“I think we kind of relaxed at that point,” Meeks said. “Didn’t play very well from that point on offensively. But again, 21-7, first district game, first win, we’ll take it. To get to 3-1, we’re  excited about where we are.”

Airline did have a couple of more scoring opportunities in the second quarter but couldn’t convert.

Natchitoches Central’s big play was a 70-yard touchdown pass early in the the third quarter that cut Airline’s lead in half.

The game’s final TD came on a 30-yard pass from Garcia to Smith with 6:20 to play in the third quarter.

The Vikings made a goaline stand later in the quarter. Natchitoches Central had a first-and-goal at the 5. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth down from the 4.

Airline gave Natchitoches Central another chance when it lost a fumble at its 6. But Hunter Rice picked off a pass to end the threat. He returned it almost 100 yards, but a penalty brought the ball back deep in Airline territory.

Rice finished with two interceptions.

Meeks was pleased with how his team bounced back from Week 3’s 49-28 loss to Ruston.

“It was huge for us to come back and get a win,” he said.

Airline continues District 1-5A play Friday against Southwood at Independence Stadium. The Cowboys (0-4) lost to Captain Shreve 57-7 in their district opener.