SHREVEPORT – Natchitoches Central safety Landon Brosset and the rest of the Chiefs’ senior class were playing the final games of their high school careers Friday.
NCHS was out of the playoff hunt after a string of close losses, and the Chiefs were finishing the regular season against Byrd in Independence Stadium.
But Brosset was injured early in the second quarter, left the field on a straight board and was taken to an ambulance.
NCHS coach Jess Curtis said Brosset was experiencing back spasms, and he was transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure. The game was delayed 25 minutes as athletic trainers and first responders tended to Brosset with an ambulance en route.
The Chiefs had cut Byrd’s lead to one score (14-7) just before the injury, but Byrd pulled away from that point in a 42-14 Yellow Jackets win.
“Thankfully, Landon is going to be fine,” Curtis said. “When Landon went down, it made us have to juggle our secondary. He’s such a big part of what we do on defense.
“What Byrd does offensively is tough to prepare for, but we’ve gone against it in some of our other opponents. Byrd does a great job of running it, but our kids must play disciplined assignment football.”
Byrd quarterback Asher Murray took off for a 44-yard touchdown run before Quintin Hilliard punched in a 15-yard run right before the half to build a 28-7 halftime edge.
NCHS quarterback Owen Smith and receiver Dillon Braxton hooked up for a pair of touchdowns. The first was a 37-yard strike to slice Byrd’s lead to 14-7 in the second quarter. Smith fit a pass over Byrd’s Kaidan-Abraham Miller, who set Byrd’s single-season record for interceptions with his sixth earlier in the game.
Braxton scored from 75 yards out early in the third quarter to cut Byrd’s lead in half again (28-14).
But the Yellow Jackets’ ground game was too strong as Byrd rolled up 430 yards on just 38 carries (more than 10 yards per rush).
Johnson rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries as the Yellow Jackets found success rushing around the edges for big gains.
Jontavious Mobery (70 yards) and Desmond Simmons (62 yards) each contributed to the rushing attack.
Smith threw for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on 14-25 passing.
Braxton caught the lion’s share of those passes, accounting for 168 yards on five catches and both touchdowns.
Byrd (4-6, 4-3 District 1-5A) is projected to the be the No. 17 seed in Division I Select, according to updated power ratings by geauxpreps.com and will travel in the first round.
The Yellow Jackets rebounded from an 0-4 start to win four of their last six games.
The Chiefs (2-8, 1-5) end their season with six straight losses, but four of district losses were by one score (Parkway, Captain Shreve, Benton and Haughton).
Curtis knows NCHS is on the right path as the Chiefs will attempt to further strengthen its foundation in Curtis’ second season.
“We are proud of our second half of the season, and we’ve made big strides,” Curtis said. “We played the best teams in the district to the last play.
“We’ve just got to finish. We have a strong foundation for us to build on, and we’ll start that Monday.”