BY MATT VINES, Journal Sports
HAUGHTON – A Haughton offense that scored 71 points this past week didn’t need any help to the reach endzone, but Natchitoches Central supplied that aid as the Bucs ran away with a 56-20 win Friday.
Four Chiefs turnovers in the first half, including an interception return for a touchdown, opened the floodgates of a game in which NCHS matched Haughton’s early surge with punches of its own.
Haughton turned all four of those turnovers into touchdowns, building an insurmountable 42-14 halftime lead before coasting in the second half.
“Turnovers changed the game, and we couldn’t recover,” said NCHS coach James Wilkerson. “The final three minutes of the first half changed the game.”
With the game tied at 14-14, Haughton scored 28 points in the final three minutes of the first half.
The first score capped a drive in which Haughton quarterback Colin Rains connected with receiver John Ecot for one of his two touchdowns, giving the Bucs a 21-14 edge.
On the next play from scrimmage, Haughton’s Connor Blank intercepted a Brian Young pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, doubling Haughton’s lead to 28-14.
Feeling the screws tightening, NCHS went for it on fourth-and-one from its own 37 and came up short.
Rains plunged in from one yard out to seemingly put a bow on the first with Haughton up 35-14 with 32 seconds left before the break.
But NCHS fumbled on a pitch on its next possession, giving Haughton one more chance deep in Chiefs territory.
Haughton cashed in again Ecot caught his second touchdown of the half, a 34-yarder from Rains, to build the unbreakable 42-14 lead.
“It was our defense getting stops, getting turnovers and putting our offense in a good position,” said Haughton coach Jason Brotherton. “The offense played well, too. It was a total team effort.”
The Chiefs battled early, scoring first by marching 91 yards capped by a 22-yard touchdown run from workhorse Jeremiah Miles. NCHS started the drive with a 32-yard strike from Young to receiver Camryn Davis.
Miles rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries with two scores, the second a 33-yard run in the second half.
Haughton scored the next two touchdowns, a halfback pass from Jalen Lewis to Rashard Douglas (31 yards) and a Rains 32-yard run.
Rains finished with 228 passing yards on 10-15 and two touchdowns to go with 32 rushing yards an another two scores.
“Haughton is a good team that can hurt you in many ways, and they did that tonight,” Wilkerson said.
But NCHS, who was fighting for their playoff lives, had an answer on the road.
Young found Camryn Davis for a 20-yard touchdown as he threw for 147 on 16-22 passing. Davis was the favorite target, reaching the 100-yard barrier (8-100) for the third straight game.
But those catastrophic three minutes of the first half sunk NCHS on Friday and likely put an end to a return playoff trip.
The Chiefs slipped to No. 38 in the Division I Non-Select power ratings, more than a full point behind the No. 28 slot according to GeauxPreps.com – the final playoff spot in the new LHSAA playoff brackets.
A win against Byrd, the No. 5 team in Division I Select, would go a long way for NCHS leapfrogging a ton of teams in a similar position, but it’s a tall task even if the Chiefs did orchestrate a win against a Yellowjackets bunch that has lost three of their last five contests even with a 58-0 drubbing of Southwood on Friday.
NC – Jeremiah Miles 22 run (Mateo Restrepo kick)
H – Rashard Douglas 31 pass from Jalen Lewis (Carter Ebarb kick)
H – Colin Rains 32 run (Ebarb kick)
NC – Camryn Davis 20 pass from Brian Young (Restrepo kick)
H – John Ecot 8 pass from Rains (Ebarb kick)
H – Connor Blank 33 interception return (Ebarb kick)
H – Rains 1 run (Ebarb kick)
H – Ecot 33 pass from Rains (Ebarb kick)
H – Tyler Rhodes 7 run (Ebarb kick)
NC – Miles 33 run (run failed)
H – Rhodes 18 run (Ebarb kick)
NCHS (21-87) – Miles 14-107, Dremarious Brown 1-1, Jai’den Matlock 2-1, Davis 1-minus-2, Young 3-minus-20.
Haughton (34-178) – Rhodes 15-92, Marion Montgomery 10-62, Rains 5-32, Chris Mayes 3-minus-6
NCHS – Young 16-22-0-147.
Haughton – Rains 10-15-0-228, Lewis 1-1-0-31, Christian Turner 0-1-0.
NCHS – Davis 8-100, Zion Thompson 5-38, Braden Woods 2-5, Titus Williams 1-4.
Haughton – Rashard Douglas 4-135, Ecot 2-41, Cayden Hinkie 2-17, Rhodes 1-49, Hesten Nesbitt 1-9, Lewis 1-8.
CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports