A game that was expected to be very physical and hard hitting was all that, and more, in a slugfest Friday night between Class 2A stalwarts settled in the final seconds.
The Many Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, then held off the previously undefeated Avoyelles Mustangs to earn a 34-30 victory at John W. Curtis Stadium.
Many improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in District 3-2A. Avoyelles fell to a 6-1 record, 3-1 in district. Avoyelles entered the night No. 2 statewide in the all-important LHSAA Class 2A power points rankings, one spot ahead of No. 3 Many, who will doubtlessly move up.
Jayvion Smart’s interception on a desperate halfback pass on the game’s final play locked down the win for the Tigers, who are No. 1 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A top 10 media poll.
Tackett Curtis scored on a 15-yard run with 59 seconds left, and London Williams added a two-point conversion run for the third and final lead change in the showdown.
This game was all it was hyped up to be. Each team scored in every quarter. Avoyelles totalled 302 yards, six more than Many. It was intense, a playoff-type atmosphere and as physical a football game as you’ll find.
On the first play from scrimmage, Avoyelles’ star running back Carlos Bazert was brought down on a bone-crushing tackle by Curtis, a preview of things to come.
Despite that, the Mustangs marched 71 yards in eight plays, ending with a 3-yard touchdown run by Bazert. Avoyelles tacked on the two-point conversion to go up 8-0 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
On their first possession, the Tigers matched the Mustangs drive with one of their own: an eight-play, 61-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a fourth-down Trent Williams 44=yard scamper. It concluded with a 3-yard London Williams TD run. The conversion failed, however, and the Tigers trailed 8-6 with 2:17 left in the opening quarter.
Avoyelles answered immediately. After four running plays netted the Mustangs 11 yards, quarterback Nick Casugay found Decareyn Sampson down the right sideline for a 63-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter. The conversion was good, putting the Mustangs up 16-6 with 11:50 to go in the half.
The Tigers were stopped after seven plays on their next possession, being shut down on a fourth-and-1 as London Williams was halted at the line of scrimmage. But the Many defense picked up the slack.
On the ensuing Mustangs drive, Casugay was sacked and fumbled. The Tigers’ Swayze Carheel picked up the loose ball and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. London Williams added the conversion to bring Many within 16-14 with 3:22 left in the half.
Avoyelles’ next possession ended on the fourth play when a hard hit from the Tigers defense forcing another fumble, this one recovered by Keaton Montgomery. From the visitors’ 22-yard line, it took the Tigers only three plays to score, this time on a 2-yard run from London Williams. Although the conversion failed, with 36 seconds left in the half the Tigers were up 20-16.
The opening drive of the third quarter featured Many’s running attack featuring London and Trent Williams and highlighted by a 47-yard scamper by Curtis. Trent Williams capped the drive with a 5=yard run. The extra point was no good, but the Tigers led 26-16.
Another Avoyelles fumble set up the Tigers with great field position but the drive ended on a fourth-down stop by the Mustangs on the 6-yard line. One snap later, the Mustangs’ Sampson dashed 92 yards for a touchdown. Adding a two-point conversion, Avoyelles drew within 26-24 with 33 seconds left in the third.
The visitors quickly took the lead. Just 58 seconds into the final quarter, the Mustangs defense answered Carheel’s earlier fumble return TD with one of their own. Sampson scooped and scored on a London Williams fumble that was returned 36 yards for the lead, 30-26 with 11:02 left in the game.
The Tigers responded but couldn’t cash in. Many made a long march down the field only to be stopped after eight plays on a Trent Williams fumble at the 8-yard line, with 6:45 left.
The Tiger defense rose to the occasion, creating a fourth-and-12 situation when nearly every team in the country would punt from deep in their own end of the field. But Avoyelles never punts, and the Tiger defense stopped them well short of the first down, taking over with a short field on the Mustangs’ 26-yard line with 3:08 left.
Getting a critical third-down conversion, Curtis picked up a first down on an 8-yard run, the capped the decisive series on his 15-yard touchdown run. London Williams added the conversion lifting the Tigers up 34-30 with 59 seconds left.
It wasn’t over. Avoyelles returned the kickoff to the 50-yard line. The Mustangs gained 9 yards on three plays, but grinded the clock down to one second for a last chance from the 41. Smart intercepted Casugay on the last play of the game to allow Many to escape with a 34-30 win.
Curtis spearheaded the Tiger defense with 10 tackles, and many of them could be heard all over the stadium. Tylen Singleton and Carheel each registered four tackles.
7:28, A: Carlos Bazert 3 run, Bazert conversion, Avoyelles 8-0
2:17 M: London Williams run, conversion failed, Avoyelles 8-6
11:50 A: Nick Casugay 63 pass to Decareyn Sampson, Bazert conversion, Avoyelles 16-6
3:22 M: Swayze Carheel 58 fumble return, L. Williams conversion, Avoyelles 16-14
0:36 M: Trent Williams 2 run, conversion failed, Many 20-16
7:59 M: T. Williams 5 run, conversion failed, Many 26-16
0:33 A: Sampson 92 run, Bazert conversion, Many 26-24
11:02 A: Sampson 36 fumble return, conversion failed, Avoyelles 30-26
0:59 M: Tackett Curtis 15 run, L. Williams conversion, Many 34-30
Passing: M – Curtis 1-3, 19 yards
A – Casugay 2-4, 92 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: M – Curtis 7-106, 1 TD; L.Williams 24-91, 1 TD, T. Williams, 15-80, 2 TDs
A – 36-210, 2 TDs
Receiving: M – L. Williams 1-19
A – 2-92, 1 TD
Tackles – Curtis 10, Tylen Singleton 4, Carheel 4
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