High school football: Missed opportunities, penalties prove costly for Airline in loss to Shreve

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After Alex Garcia raced 37 yards for a touchdown with 7:57 left in Airline’s game against Captain Shreve on Friday night, the Vikings had a 14-7 lead and all the momentum on their side.

It didn’t last long.

Shreve sophomore speedster Kendrick Law returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. The Gators went on to win the District 1-5A contest 24-14 at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium.

It was Shreve’s first victory at Airline since 2005. The Gators also avenged a 21-14 loss last year that gave the Vikings a share of the district title with Shreve.

Both teams are headed to the playoffs. According to GeauxPreps.com as of late Friday night, Shreve (5-3, 5-2 1-5A) was No. 16 in the Class 5A power rankings with games remaining to be played Saturday.

Airline (3-3, 3-2) was No. 31. The top 32 teams in the LHSAA’s final official rankings make the playoffs. Those and the playoff pairings are scheduled to be released Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.

For the Vikings, Friday’s loss was a case of missed opportunities and untimely penalties. The Vikings failed to score on two drives inside the 15-yard line in the second half. They also had a touchdown erased by a penalty and several other costly ones in the last two quarters.

Shreve suffered several drive-killing holding penalties that also negated some big gains in the first half and had a touchdown called back.

According to stats kept by the Shreve radio crew’s Willie Jordan, Airline had 10 penalties for 119 yards and Shreve 12 for 123.

The Gators scored on the second play of the game and did not score again until Law’s return.

Airline’s lone first-half touchdown came on a 66-yard pass from Garcia to Jaden Williams.

After Law’s return, Airline went three-and-out thanks partly to a penalty that negated a catch by Devin Bilbo.

Garcia got off a 57-yard punt and Shreve took over at its 28. A roughing the passer penalty on the second play of the drive moved the ball to the Gators 48.

Shreve eventually reached the 11 with a first down. But the Gators got no closer than the 5 thanks to a strong effort by the Vikings defense.

An illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 9. Alex Auer then kicked a 27-yard field goal and the Gators led 17-14 with 3:20 left in the game.

The Vikings started at their 27 after the kickoff. A 15-yard Garcia run was erased by a holding penalty. 

Garcia was sacked on third-and-27 and threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-32.

Shreve took over at the 7 and quarterback Kenyon Terrell scored on fourth down from the 5 with 18 seconds left.

Despite the relatively low-scoring game, both teams put up some big offensive numbers according to Jordan.

Shreve’s Law and receiver Kam Dowell both returned to action after missing a couple of games because of injuries. Starting quarterback Ashton Martin had to sit out the game because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

Terrell filled in well, completing 22 of 45 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. Sam Smith led the Gators on the ground with 103 yards on 20 carries. Dowell had six catches for 71 yards.

Shreve finished with 344 total yards.

According to stats compiled b Airline, the Vikings had 439 total yards.

Garcia was 15 of 36 for 259 yards with three interceptions. Rovelle Young carried nine times for 91 yards, including a 46-yard run. Jamall Asberry rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries.

Williams had three catches for 78 yards with most of that coming on his touchdown reception. Bilbo had two for 68. Asberry had two for 47.