The thrill of posting shutouts must have diminished after three in-a-row, so the Neville defense decided to up the ante by scoring points of its own.
The Tigers did just that, scoring two defensive touchdowns, nearly scoring a third and added a special teams score in a 48-8 win over Franklin Parish. The win secured Neville’s seventh straight District 2-4A championship and finished a 9-0 regular season.
“This is the time of the year to be playing good football,” Neville head coach Mickey McCarty said. “I give a lot of credit to Franklin Parish, their kids played hard through the fourth quarter. Our kids came up with some big plays early in the game to get the momentum and we were able to ride the momentum to finish out the win.
“One of the goals is to go undefeated in the regular season and set the table for the playoffs, then throw the record in the garbage.”
Corey Straughter was responsible for two of the non-offensive scores, starting with a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the Tigers up 14-0 midway through the first quarter. Straughter scored again early in the second quarter: Rashard Lawrence forced a fumble for Straughter to pick up off the bounce and return 16 yards for the touchdown.
The final defensive score came just 70 seconds later when Jacorion Andrews returned an interception for 25 yards and a touchdown. Jake Kelly had an interception of his own and returned it 25 yards but was stopped just five yards away from the end zone.
“There was a stretch there in the first half where our offense was sitting over there for a while, and that’s a great thing to have those guys score,” McCarty said. “It’s always exciting. Our defense has played really well. We just missed out on another shutout, but they played well and they played hard.”
The Tiger offense started the scoring barrage with Jaiden Cole’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Quintin Guice on its first possession. The Neville offense didn’t score again for nearly 16 minutes, the touchdowns separated by Straughter’s punt return, a 37-yard field goal from Charlie Barefoot, Straughter’s fumble return, Andrews’ interception return and a 39-yard field goal from Curphey Hardin. Kenneth Johnson ran in the touchdown that was set up by Kelly’s interception returned to the 5-yard line.
Payton Batteford put the Tigers up 48-0 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter on his 2-yard touchdown run.
Streak ended: On Gary Fletcher’s 48-yard run for a touchdown, Neville allowed its first score of any kind in 198 minutes, 30 seconds. Bastrop scored on Neville with a little over five minutes to go in the third quarter of that game, but since then the Tigers shut out Grant, Tioga and West Ouachita before doing the same to the Patriots for three quarters.
Four snaps, three scores: Neville scored 17 points in the first three plays from scrimmage of the second quarter. Barefoot started the quarter with his 37-yard field goal. Straughter’s fumble return for a touchdown came on Franklin Parish’s first snap of the ensuing possession. On the next possession, the Tigers stuffed a run for a loss of 1 yard before Andrews’ interception return for a touchdown.
Now they wait: The win guarantees the No. 1 seed in 4A for the Tigers, but their first-round opponent remains up in the air depending on the Week 10 results.
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