Ouachita head coach Jeff Fitzgerald could feel the swing in momentum. With his team leading 14-0 in the second half, it was all Ouachita up until a well-covered deep ball was completed by Airline and his young team had to respond. That gut feeling proved to be true, as Airline went on to beat Ouachita, 28-20.
“That was the turning point,” Fitzgerald said. “We had them backed up, and he was trying to hit his running back up the seam. It was great coverage but the ball was underthrown and they made the play. He caught it and they hurried up to run another play. That shifted the momentum.”
Everything snowballed from there. Ouachita’s youth showed as Airline outscored the Lions 28-6 in the second half.
The game couldn’t have started much better for the Ouachita Lions.
Chaunzavia Lewis scored the first touchdown of the night midway through the first quarter with a 14-yard run. The Lions took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter when quarterback Zach Shaw connected with Brandon Kimes for a 15-yard score.
But then the Lions hit a wall offensively, and Airline’s passing attack took over. After Lewis’ 14-yard touchdown run, he totaled just 25 yards from scrimmage. Lewis finished with 39 yards on 15 carries. As an offense, Ouachita was held to just 149 total yards.
“It was just one of those deals where they made the plays and we didn’t,” Fitzgerald said.
Meanwhile, Airline’s passing attack totaled 252 yards through the air. And that’s how the Vikings came back to defeat the Lions.
Viking quarterback Alex Garcia found Daniel Smith for a five-yard score in the third quarter to cut the Lions’ lead in half. Three minutes later, Garcia launched a 31-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, 14-14.
In the fourth quarter, Garcia connected with Smith again, and this time it was a 38-yard touchdown that put the Vikings on top, 21-14.
Ouachita answered immediately with a 95-yard kickoff return from Lewis that ultimately resulted in a fumble before Ouachita’s Deon Hudson recovered it for a Lion score.
Up by one, the Vikings added some insurance with a late touchdown run.
“We just have to keep working and get better,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to get there, but it’s going to take some time.”
Ouachita will look to change its fortunes at (1-0) Richwood Friday night. The Rams picked up their first win of the Marcus Yanez era with a 26-14 victory against Woodlawn-Shreve.