The (4-1) West Monroe Rebels won their 10th consecutive matchup against the (3-2) Neville Tigers in a lopsided 41-14 victory at Bill Ruple Stadium Friday night.
The Rebels haven’t lost to a Northeast Louisiana opponent since the Tigers defeated the Rebels in 1995, and the streak continued with a dominant performance by the Rebels in a game of revenge. The Rebels came up short in the Bayou Jamb 2019 when Timothy Byrd caught a last-minute touchdown for the Tigers, but the Rebels stood tall in a game that counts in the record books.
“They won that one, and we won the one that counted,” West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge said. “I was very happy that after they got that first touchdown, for a long time, we kept the door shut on them.”
The Rebels held Neville to just 1-of-9 on third down conversions, forced a couple of turnovers and limited the Tigers to just 236 yards of offense. Meanwhile, the Rebels rushed for 320 yards.
“We have a great offensive line, and we knew going into this game we could take advantage in the trenches,” West Monroe H-back Cayden Pierce said.
Each side entered short-handed. ULM commit Garrett Kahmann was not available for the Rebels, as Lane Little made his fifth straight start at quarterback.
On the opposite side, Neville trotted out a defense that missed two of its biggest stars, linebacker Javon Carter and pass rusher Iken Tankchell.
Still, no excuses were made by either side.
“We had a ton of penalties in the first half,” McCarty said. “We gave too much. Credit them. They played an excellent football game. They executed what they do, and we did not.”
West Monroe tailback Derome Williams followed his 244-yard rushing performance against Evangel the week prior with another productive night on the ground. Thanks to a 46-yard run on the opening series followed by a couple of touchdown runs later in the quarter, Williams eclipsed 100 yards and averaged 10 yards per carry in the first half. Williams finished the game with 122 yards on 13 carries.
What looked to be a runaway victory for the Rebels turned into a dramatic first quarter conclusion. Leading 14-0, Little evaded traffic in the backfield on third-and-long and threw into traffic near his own end zone. Grambling commit Charles Straughter picked off the pass and set the Tigers up inside the red zone.
“The pick was my fault,” West Monroe offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt said. “I should have never put him in that situation, but he did such a good job tonight running our offense. He’s getting better every week.”
Neville quarterback Andrew Brister tossed a 19-yard touchdown to Jordan Mansfield three plays later to bring the Tigers within one score.
The Rebels kept pounding the rock, which ultimately set up a play-action pass for Lane Little to hit a wide-open Pierce in stride for a 47-yard score, allowing the Rebels to take a 21-7 lead.
Rebel linebacker Tanner Zordan undercut a Tiger slant on the following possession and returned an interception 50 yards for the pick-six with two minutes left in the half.
The Rebels defense generated traffic in Brister’s throwing lanes all night, as the senior signal-caller ended his night completing just 18-of-33 for 176 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
“We challenged ourselves tonight because we knew (against ASH) we have to face another good passing team,” West Monroe safety Brooks Miller said. “Everyone looks down on (the secondary) the last three years because of the defensive linemen we had.”
The Tigers moved the ball into Rebel territory on their final offensive drive of the half but a bobbled pass fell into the hands of West Monroe defensive lineman and Louisiana Tech commit Dontrell Cobbs for Brister’s second interception of the half.
Neville faced a crucial 4th-and-1 from its own 28-yard line to start the third quarter, and McCarty elected to roll the dice deep in his own territory. The Rebels stopped the Tigers short, and McCarty had no regrets about this decision.
“We have to have something positive happen in that case,” McCarty said. “It didn’t work in our favor at that point, and I’d do it again.”
The Rebels, and Pierce, took advantage. West Monroe handed the ball to Pierce five straight times until he crossed the goal line on the ground. Pierce scored a second touchdown on the ground later in the game, compiling more than 100 yards of total offense and three scores.
“I called him Tommy Banks at the Rebel Club today because he’s our bell cow,” Hunt said. “I’m glad he has that ‘WM’ on the side of his helmet.”
Brister connected with Mansfield again in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard strike.
With the win, the Rebels will enter district play on the road against Alexandria Senior High with a wave of momentum. Meanwhile, Neville will look to get back on the right track after suffering back-to-back lopsided losses.