High school football: Second-half rally sends Airline past Haughton

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Airline sophomore quarterback Brad Fream threw four second-half touchdown passes as the Vikings rallied past the Haughton Buccaneers 35-17 in a District 1-5A game Friday night at Airline Stadium.

The Vikings improved to 6-1 overall with their fourth straight win. Airline is 3-0 in district and tied with Evangel Christian (5-2, 3-0) for the 1-5A lead. The Vikings host the Eagles this Friday at Airline Stadium. Evangel routed Captain Shreve 55-0 Friday night.

Haughton dropped to 4-3 and 1-2 with their second straight loss. The Bucs host another Bossier Parish rival, Parkway (6-1, 2-1), this Friday. Parkway routed Booker T. Washington 48-14 in a non-district game Friday night.

Haughton played without receiver Josh Lister and leading rusher Lavonta Gipson. Lister had to sit out the game after being ejected early in last week’s loss to Byrd. Gipson has a dislocated knee.

Despite that, the Bucs had an outstanding first half, jumping out to a 17-7 lead. Haughton had almost 200 yards total offense against a defense that had recorded three straight shutouts and allowed only three touchdowns all season.

Kynan Hayes, who also suffered an apparent leg injury in the second half, scored the Bucs’ first TD on a 4-yard run. Haughton made it 10-0 on Nico Broadway’s 26-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

The Vikings’ lone first-half touchdown came after that. Malik Britt returned the kickoff 80 yards for a score.

Haughton quarterback Pryce Curry answered with a 10-yard touchdown run and Broadway’s PAT made it 17-7.

“Coach (Jason) Brotherton and Haughton came to play and we knew that,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said. “We knew we were going to get their best. We always do. They do a great job of preparing their guys and their guys play hard. They’ve got great kids out there.”

The Vikings turned it around in the second half, though. According to stats kept by Roy Lang III of The (Shreveport) Times, Fream completed just two of eight passes for 11 yards in the first half. In the second, he completed 13 of 15 for 205.

“They brought it to us and we didn’t respond well in the first half,” Meeks said. “We talked about it at halftime — don’t panic, just play the way we’ve been playing and we did that in the second half, really played well. I’m really proud of the way we played in the second half.”

Fream had two big completions during the span the Vikings went from 17-7 down to 21-17 up early in the fourth quarter.

“We hit a couple of big passes over the top, both when we were down 17-7 and 17-14, that got us in range,” Meeks said.

Airline got within three when Fream hit senior running back Brian Fielding for a 22-yard TD late in the third quarter. Nathan Otis’ second of five successful PATs made it 17-14.

For the first time since early in the season, the Vikings had both Fielding and wide receiver Coby McGee on the field at the same time. Both missed significant playing time with injuries.

Interceptions led to Airline’s third and fourth touchdowns on catches by Brian Engelke and Nate Fullilove in the fourth quarter. The Vikings’ final TD came on a 4-yard pass to big nose guard Dylan Nash-Browder, who came in as an eligible receiver.

Meeks gave a lot of the credit to his offensive line for giving Fream the time to throw.

“The guys did a great job keeping him clean in the second half and we made some great catches, the backs held up in protection,” he said. “We’ve got to be balanced. If they’re going to work to take away the run we’ve got to be able to throw and catch and did a really good job of that in the second half.”

Meanwhile, Airline’s defense completely shut down the Bucs.

“It was like last week (against Byrd),” Brotherton said. “We played really well in the first half and did some good things. You get in the second half. You can’t sustain drives. You can’t make first downs. You just continually put your defense in a bad spot.

“Eventually, they made plays in the second half and we didn’t. We thought we had a plan and we ran that effectively (in the first half). We got to a spot where we’re short-handed and had some other guys get injured during the game. You lose a lot of your playmakers it’s hard to sustain drives at that point. And they’re good. That’s the thing. They’re good when you’ve got your best guys out there so it’s tough.”

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com