Neville 34, Bastrop 32
Neville stopped Bastrop on a 2-point conversion with 10 seconds remaining to preserve a thrilling 34-32 verdict over the upset-minded Rams here Friday night.
Over the course of the scintillating final six minutes, Bastrop took the lead on a fourth down touchdown pass, Neville scored twice during a span of nine seconds to go up 34-26 and Bastrop drove 60 yards in two and a half minutes to earn the opportunity to send the game into overtime.
In the end, the top-ranked Tigers (8-0, 2-0) overcame an uncharacteristic three turnovers and withstood the Rams (2-6, 0-2) best effort of the season.
“Obviously, I'm tremendously proud of these kids' perseverance and effort,” Bastrop coach Thomas Bachman said. “The execution, at times, was lacking, but these kids haven't given up.”
Indeed, the Rams competed against the heavily-favored Tigers until the final horn sounded.
Christian Doaty's 27-yard pass to Isaiah Graham on fourth-and-10 enabled the Rams to regain the lead. After the initial 2-point run was negated by a holding call, Doaty and Graham hooked up again from 18 yards out to put the Rams up 26-21 with 5:55 to play.
Neville soon seized the momentum.
Kavonte Turpin's 25-yard kickoff return gave the Tigers good field position at their own 40.
Overcoming Q Caldwell's 7-yard sack on first down and an illegal substitution penalty, Ashari Goins converted a third-and-seven with a 9-yard pickup to the Bastrop 48.
Four plays later, Turpin scored his third touchdown on a 9-yard run to give the Tigers a 27-26 lead with 2:50 remaining.
On Bastrop's next offensive snap, Scott Rider's 26-yard pick-6, along with Brian Barefoot's extra point, increased the spread to 34-26.
Jerry Powell's 26-yard kickoff return gave the Rams quality field position at their own 40. Still, the Rams needed to cover 60 yards in a matter of 2:40 with no timeouts remaining.
Antwone Green opened the drive with a 16-yard reception.
Two plays later, Jamari Payne moved the chains with a 10-yard reception, before stepping out of bounds at the 30 with 1:41 on the clock.
Under heavy duress, Doaty found Green for 16 yards and another first down at the 13.
Moments later, a holding penalty backed the Rams up to the 24 with 1:18 to go.
On second-and-17, Doaty picked up the first down with a 17-yard carry to the 3, stopping the clock with 25 ticks remaining.
After an incomplete pass on first down, Doaty spotted a seam up the middle and broke the plane to bring the Rams within 34-32 with just 10 seconds to spare.
On the try for 2, Doaty rolled to his right, but was tracked down by a crowd of Tigers well short of the pylon.
Rider covered the inevitable onside kick, which caromed off a Bastrop player before traveling the required 10 yards, to make the result official.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Rams were able to generate a pair of first downs before Donald Louis' third down sack brought on the punting unit.
Neville, which committed only seven turnovers through its first seven games, fumbled the ball away on its second offensive snap.
Taking over at their own 49, the Rams were unable to capitalize and the Tigers eventually took over on downs at the 14.
Bastrop began its third series from the 20 after Alex Prince Jr.'s 45-yard punt went for a touchback.
Two plays later, Rider recovered a fumble at the Bastrop 33.
Cashing in on the turnover, Laurence Jones cut back up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Bastrop's next series ended at the Neville 29 when a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
The Rams soon regained possession on Kentreylus Hill-Pates' fumble recovery at the Neville 40.
This time, the Rams capitalized as Doaty connected with Payne on a 10-yard TD toss, trimming the deficit to 7-6.
Johnnie Marsaw and Rufus Martin's combined second down sack led to a three and out on the Tigers' next possession.
Setting up at the Neville 48 after the punt, the Rams put together a six-play scoring drive, punctuated by Doaty's 16-yard pass to Graham on fourth-and-four. Graham's catch in the right corner of the end zone gave the Rams a 12-7 lead with 3:36 to play in the half.
Receiving the second half kickoff, the Tigers quickly advanced into Bastrop territory as the electrifying Turpin sprang loose for runs of 19 and 18 yards.
However, the promising drive ended with a fumble at the Bastrop 28.
From there, the Rams embarked on an 11-play drive, capped by Kevin Heard's breathtaking 16-yard run to the left side. Despite coming away empty on the 2-point conversion for the third straight time, the Rams were up 18-7 four minutes into the second half.
Bastrop was only 1-of-5 on 2-point plays.
“I thought the first three 2-point plays were huge,” Bachman said. “I thought we had all three of them.”
Travez Moore's sack led to a three and out on the Tigers' second offensive series of the half and Prince's 38-yard punt rolled dead at the 22.
Graham's 32-yard reception off of a series of nifty moves and a 10-yard catch by Payne enabled the Rams to advance to the Neville 34, but the momentum soon began to shift. After being flagged for intentional grounding, the drive stalled and the Rams dropped back to punt.
T.J. Lemoine blocked the kick, enabling Neville to set up at the 35 on the plus side of the field.
Three plays later, Turpin veered around the right edge for a 15-yard TD scamper. The PAT sailed wide, but Neville had reduced the deficit to 18-13 at 3:07 in the third period.
Following an empty possession by the Rams, Neville trotted its offense back on to the field at its own 43.
An offensive facemask infraction brought up second-and-23 from the 30, but the Tigers would convert in a big way. Slipping out of the backfield unchecked, Turpin cradled the pass from Fuller and scored easily. Lining up as the holder, Fuller scooped up the rolling snap and surged straight ahead on the faux extra point, enabling Neville to carry a 21-18 lead into the final quarter.
Closing out a two-game homestand, the Rams will observe Senior Night prior to Friday's game against Wossman. Neville, meanwhile, closes out regular season play against West Ouachita, before taking an open date in Week 10.
Notes: Both teams turned the ball over three times. Still, the Tigers remained an amazing plus-17 in turnover margin with 24 takeaways vs. seven giveaways. Neville has intercepted 12 passes without throwing a pick. … In contrast to its past two outings against Union Parish and Franklin Parish, the Rams were able to keep their offense on the field for the majority of the Neville game. Bastrop held a whopping 94-42 edge in offensive plays and a 28:12-19:48 advantage in time of possession. … Neville won its fifth straight game against the Rams, upping its edge in the all-time series to 57-24 (excluding ties).