Jaiden Cole ran 21 times for 250 and four touchdowns – all four scores coming in the first half – assuming control of a battle of two of the best offenses in the area. Cole’s production early and clock management late led Neville to a 45-22 win over Bastrop.
Cole’s touchdowns came on runs of 12, 68, 5 and 19 yards. He also threw for 68 yards on 4-for-5 passing.
“That wasn’t necessarily the plan, but the advantage of having a running quarterback in our scheme is that sometimes it gives you an extra hat to block for him,” Neville coach Mickey McCarty said. “I thought our offensive line played well tonight, our tight ends did a good job in the trenches.”
After Charlie Barefoot’s 31-yard field goal opened scoring, Bastrop took an 8-3 lead on a five-play, 79-yard scoring drive that took just 56 seconds. Jerry Powell finished the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak finishing a drive in which he had completions of 19 and 25 yards followed by a run of 23 yards.
Bastrop brought the game within a point early in the second quarter with Powell’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Josh Doaty and the ensuing 2-point conversion.
Neville used a defensive touchdown to build the game’s first double-digit lead on Ben Nola’s interception return for a touchdown. Will Anders shot into the backfield, pushed the quarterback back to the goal line and Nola jumped to catch a desperation throwaway attempt, easily returning it less than 5 yards to the end zone. That play put the Tigers up 31-16, which would be the score at halftime.
“Hats off to our defense. They’re a tough team to defend,” McCarty said. “We made some big plays tonight, got enough pressure on the quarterback to make things happen.
“We came in with a couple of different ways to defend them: one of which was trying to back up and cover without much pressure and the other was to try to get him to him before we had to cover for too long. It looked like the pressure package worked better. We had a hard time containing the quarterback early on in the game, and give credit to him, he’s a great athlete and he broke contain on us. But later we were able to do a better job of getting to him.”
The teams started the second half by trading punts then trading touchdowns. Donald Jenkins scored on a 9-yard touchdown run for Neville and Bastrop responded with a seven-play, 87-yard touchdown drive aided by three Neville penalties. Powell scored on a 2-yard run.
Neville transitioned well to a ball control offense in the later stages, getting the ball and working off the final 5 minutes, 36 seconds of the third quarter and the first 50 seconds of the fourth quarter before turning it over on downs. After a defensive stop, Neville regained the ball with 9 minutes, 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter and ate more than five minutes of clock.
Scoring quick: Quick scoring drives are to be expected in games that contain a combined 67 points, but this game featured quick scoring drives almost exclusively. The teams combined for nine scoring drives and the average numbers of plays in those scoring drives was 4.4. Four of those nine scoring drives took three or fewer plays and only two scoring drives lasted longer than five plays.
Closer to full strength: A Neville team plagued with injuries in non-district play is showed signs of getting healthier. Josh Diarse, in his first game of the season after breaking his collarbone in the preseason, ran three times for 18 yards and caught four passes for 57 yards. Quarterback Christopher Haynes (collarbone) played the final possession at quarterback and maintained his holding duties. Defensive end Anterrius Goodin (ankle) played but wide receiver Quintin Guice (knee) did not.
Neville’s pass rush: Unofficial stats credited Neville with four sacks: one for Robert Williams, who had an excellent game defensively, and one for Anders. The other two sacks, which came on the same possession and forced Bastrop to punt on fourth-and-25 in the fourth quarter, were tough to credit to one player in particular. The pass rush also forced Bastrop’s other interception, caught by defensive back Cole Marsh.
Flag party: Neville and Bastrop combined for 20 penalties for 190 yards.