LHSAA Replay: Ruston wears down Airline in second half to earn 49-28 victory
RUSTON – When you have faced very challenging opponents and lost, you can get down or you can get better.
Ruston was down but not out after falling in close contests to Neville and Acadiana.
That was evident as the Bearcats stumbled early but exploded to down Airline 49-28 in the LHSAA Game of the Week Thursday night at Joe Aillet Stadium. The game was broadcast live at Crescent City Sports.
The Bearcats struggled with turnovers early and finished with four but forced three of their own.
More importantly, the physical running game of Ruston simply wore down Airline as the game progressed.
The Bearcats ran for 313 yards, led by Kentravion Hargrove, who rushed 23 times for 138 yards and a touchdown while fullback Devian Wilson had 13 rushed for 104 yards and two scores. Deontre Griffin had 19 carries for 73 yards and three touchdowns.
On the first possession of the game, Airline fumbled and Chop Burks recovered at the Vikings 13-yard line. Three plays later, Griffin scored on a three-yard touchdown to make a 7-0 lead.
Airline responded with a 70-yard drive in six plays with Alex Garcia connecting with Daniel Smith on a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7 with seven minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Later in the quarter, Ruston was driving but Brian Marshall recovered a fumble and raced 85 yards for a touchdown to give Airline a 14-7 lead with 1:12 to play in the opening quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Ruston got even, driving 72 yards in 12 plays with Griffin scoring on a three-yard run to make it 14-14 with 8:51 to play in the half.
The Vikings recaptured the lead with an eight play, 80-yard drive with Garcia hitting Smith with a seven-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-14 with 5:52 to play in the half.
Ruston got even again, driving 71 yards in 12 plays with Wilson scoring on a one-yard run to make it 21-21. The Bearcats had a chance to take the lead prior to the break but Caleb Phillips was wide left with a field goal attempt in the final seconds on the half.
The second half was all Ruston.
On their first possession in the half, the Bearcats drove 62 yards in 12 plays with Hargrove scoring on a one-yard run to make it 27-21 with 6:17 to play in the third quarter.
Airline muffed a punt which Ruston recovered early in the fourth quarter and that set up a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jaden Procell to P.J. Torber to make it 35-21 with a two-point conversion.
After a Jordan Spencer interception, Devin Wilson ran one-yard for a score and it was 42-21 with 8:01 to play in the game.
Airline came back with an 80-yard drive in 13 plays with Garcia hitting Rovelle Young on a four-yard touchdown pass and it was 42-28 with 4:49 to play in the game.
The Bearcats finished it off with a nine-yard touchdown pass by Wilson to account for the final margin of victory.
Garcia finished 20-of-28 for 265 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Smith finished with nine catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings (2-1).
Ruston coach Jerrod Baugh is happy to get his first win but sees room for improvement.
“I think we did okay,” Baugh said. “We struggled early, making some mistakes. I think we got those things straight. The thing I told the kids was that we needed to keep playing hard and pick up our game and we would be okay. Our offensive line did a very good job mamking some holes for our running backs. I think we earned this one. We’ll see about next week.”
Ruston (1-2) returns to action in Metairie against Archbishop Rummel next Saturday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium while Airline hosts Natchitoches Central next Friday night.
RHS 7 14 7 21 — 49
AHS 14 7 0 7 — 28
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…