Caylin Demars wasn’t supposed to throw the ball, but he did, and it was the pivotal play Thursday night that took the Natchitoches Central football team from peril to prosperity.
The Chiefs’ star running back improvised on a broken play and connected with Colby Raupp for a 75-yard touchdown pass that put NCHS up by two scores late in the first half. It didn’t salt away the win but it averted disaster in a closer-than-it-looked 17-point triumph at Turpin Stadium.
With NCHS leading 13-6, a bad snap sailed over quarterback B.J. Young toward the Chiefs’ goalline. Demars scooped it up, dashed upfield and then noticed Raupp all alone at midfield. He shocked everybody by uncorking an unplanned pass that Raupp caught with his back to Parkway’s goalline. Clear of any defenders, Raupp turned and went the distance, sending the fans into a frenzy.
Without that play, Parkway would likely have forced a punt and gotten a short field with an opportunity to tie or take the lead going into halftime. But momentum, and the lead, went to NCHS.
The Chiefs couldn’t put away the visiting Panthers in the District 1-5A contest, needing two late touchdowns to pad their margin, the last Justin Aaron’s 91-yard pick six with two minutes remaining.
NCHS’s defense gave up more points than usual, but also scored twice, getting another interception return TD by Gabe Vaughn while collecting five turnovers in the victory – three interceptions (to go with nine tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble) by Aaron in an incredible performance.
FINAL SCORE: NCHS 38, Parkway 21
GAME SITE: Natchitoches, Turpin Stadium
RECORDS: NCHS Chiefs 7-1 overall,4-1 in District 1-5A; Parkway 4-4, 2-3
NC – B.J. Young 52 run (kick blocked), 6:52 1st, 6-0 NCHS (drive 9 plays, 83 yards)
NC – Gabe Vaughn 20 interception return (Sam Maggio kick), 10:24 2nd, 13-0 NCHS
P – Edward Moses 32 pass from Cade Josting (kick failed), 4:21 2nd, 13-6 NCHS (drive 6 plays, 84 yards)
NC – Colby Raupp 75 pass from Caylin Demars (kick failed), 2:00 2nd, 19-6 NCHS (drive 7 plays, 76 yards)
P – Routavious Richmond 8 pass from Josting (Aaron Burrell kick), 9:40 3rd, NCHS 19-13 (drive 9 plays, 48 yards)
NC – Demars 1 run (two-point pass failed), 11:51 4th, 25-13 NCHS (drive 10 plays, 60 yards)
P – Richmond 11 pass from Josting (Richmond run), 9:29 4th, 25-21 NCHS (drive 5 plays, 23 yards)
NC – Jeremiah Miles 41 run (kick blocked), 5:21 4th, 31-21 NCHS (drive 9 plays, 80 yards)
NC – Justin Aaron 91 interception return (Maggio kick), 1:50 4th, 38-21 NCHS
NOTES: The teams were penalized an astounding 35 times for 295 yards; 19-147 for NCHS, 16-148 on Parkway … Caylin Demars ran for 129 yards on 25 carries, the seventh time in eight games he’s had a 100-yard total … the Chiefs outgained the Panthers 350-267, with NCHS posting 250 rushing yards … Reggie Bolden had a fumble recovery for the Chiefs … Logan Saucier posted seven tackles and Calvin Willis made six for NCHS … statistics and scoring summary courtesy of venerable NCHS statistician Warren Massia.
COACH JAMES WILKERSON’S COMMENTS: “Proud of our effort. Our defense played great and the offense made plays when we had to. We have to continue to get better and clean up our mistakes.”
NEXT UP: The Chiefs will travel north to take on Haughton next Friday night.