MONROE — Defending Class 4A state champion Neville earned the top seed again this season for its explosive offense that’s scored more than 40 points in the past nine games and a smothering defense that’s holding teams to 10 points on average.
No. 16 Carencro didn’t flinch though, putting up 12 points in the first quarter alone and shutting out the Tigers offense, on top of denying Neville a single first down until its first possession of the second quarter.
That first down, though, along with the feeling that came from its first deficit all season, woke up the slow starting Tigers as the top seed converted five first downs on the drive and into the end zone on a 33-yard run by junior running back Josh Diarse.
It ignited a spark that turned into 38 unanswered points as the No. 1 seed topped Carencro 38-12.
After being held to 26 total yards of offense in the first quarter — all coming from the rush game — Neville totaled 153 yards in the second quarter alone and scored twice to take a 14-12 halftime lead.
Carencro’s 12 points came off two touchdowns also, but the Bears opted to try for the two-point conversion both times and failed.
The first touchdown came with the offense facing and fourth-and-3, but backup quarterback Carl Randall came in for a trick play and hit receiver Rashaard Harding for a 42-yard touchdown pass.
It was the Bears’ second possession of the game, and they got the ball back two plays later when Neville fumbled deep in its own territory at the 19-yard line. Junior running back Mondarius Poullard set up the touchdown with a 17-yard run to the 2-yard line on the first play of the possession, and sophomore Jalen Angelle punched it in from 1 yard out two plays later.
After totaling 131 yards in the first quarter, the visiting team was held to negative yardage for the entire second quarter, giving Neville time to mount its comeback.
The Tigers took their first drive of the second quarter 77 yards, topped off by Diarse’s run. Neville took the lead with 40 seconds left in the first half on a 5-yard run by junior quarterback Jaiden Cole to go up 14-12.
Neville matched its 14 points from the second quarter out of halftime with touchdowns on its first two possessions. Cole added to his monstrous night with a 3-yard touchdown run, followed by senior running back Donald Jenkins with a 28-yard touchdown run, dragging a defender with him for the last 10 yards.
Cole led all rushers with 170 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns, but had 23 more yards before a bad snap led to a fumble he recovered for the loss of yardage. Jenkins added 133 yards on 13 carries and a pair of touchdowns of his own.
Carencro (8-4) finished with 126 yards of total offense led by senior quarterback Gabriel Duffy with 54 yards on 10 carries. Leading rusher Tyreik Campbell, who tallied more than 1,500 yards on the year, was limited due to injury and carried the ball 12 times for 3 yards.