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High school football: Benton earns first-round home playoff game with victory over Natchitoches Central; Airline closes season with loss to Shreve

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Last week, Beaton Head Coach Reynolds Moore said the Tigers could still have a shot at hosting a first-round playoff game even if they lost their regular-season finale to Natchitoches Central.

But he stressed that his team didn’t want to back into the position.

The Tigers didn’t. Benton rolled past Natchitoches Central 35-16 in a District 1-5A game Friday night at Northwestern State’s Turpin Stadium.

The Tigers finished the regular season 7-3 overall and 4-3 in district. According to. GeauxPreps.com, Benton is No. 12 in the Class 5A power ratings. 

The official final ratings and first-round pairings will be released by the LHSAA Sunday. The top 16 teams will host first-round games.

Natchitoches Central dropped to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in district. The Chiefs, who were once 6-0,     are No. 20 in the ratings.

Benton dominated the game. The Tigers built a 21-3 halftime lead. After they scored two touchdowns off turnovers early in the third quarter, the outcome was essentially decided.

Greg Manning scored two touchdowns in the first half, the first on a 2-yard run and the second on a 13-yard screen pass from Gray Walters with 50 seconds left.

The latter came after Zach Halbert recovered a snap over Natchitoches Central quarterback Brian Jordan’s head at the Chiefs 25.

Benton’s other first-half TD came on third-and-goal at the 8. Walters rolled right and lofted a perfect pass to Pearce Russell in the back corner of the end zone. The TD and RJ Moore’s PAT gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead with 6:14 left in the first quarter.

Aiden Carinio set up Benton’s fourth TD with an interception on the Chiefs’ first possession of the second half at the Natchitoches Central 20. Walters hit Moore for a touchdown on the next play.

The Chiefs fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Tigers recovered at the 22. A pass interference penalty on fourth-and-6 gave Benton a first down. Ethan Johnson scored on a 1-yard run. Moore’s fifth PAT made it 35-3.

Captain Shreve 33, Airline 0: The Vikings closed a challenging season with the District 1-5A loss at Lee Hedges Stadium.

Airline finished 1-9 overall and 1-6 in district. Captain Shreve improved to 9-1 and earned a share of the district championship with Byrd at 6-1. The Gators are No. 2 in the 5A power ratings.

After a scoreless first quarter, Shreve scored 17 in the second, including a 54-yard touchdown run by Kendrick Law. The Gators scored two TDs and a safety in the third quarter.

Airline freshman quarterback Ben Taylor completed 12 of 22 passes for 127 yards, per stats kept for the Shreve radio broadcast. Junior JoJo Johnson had five catches for 47 yards. Junior Cameron Jefferson caught two for 41.

Senior Michael Johnson led Airline on the ground with 53 yards on 13 carries.

Shreve racked up  258 yards rushing. Jayden Edwards led the Gators with 99 yards on 14 carries.

Lincoln Prep 32, Plain Dealing 0: Thursday night at Plain Dealing, the Lions fell to the Panthers in a District 1-1A and regular-season finale.

Plain Dealing finished 2-8 overall and 2-6 in district. According to GeauxPreps.com, the Lions are No. 19 in the 1A power ratings.

Lincoln Prep finished 6-4 and 3-5. The Panthers will host a first-round game.

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