2021 - Ouachita at Neville football

Played 2021Sept10 at Bill Ruple Stadium, Monroe, La. Photo by TOM MORRIS/The Ouachita Citizen. c.tommorrisphotos.com All Rights Reserved

A lightning delay only suspended what Neville fans felt would be an inevitable outcome when the Jena Giants played its “home game” in Bill Ruple Stadium Friday night.

Having to move the game due to the extreme rain, Neville welcomed the Giants into its own fine confines for a Friday night tilt that saw the Tigers improve to 3-0 on the season.

In the 28-8 affair, the Tigers scored on its opening drive of the ballgame. Quarterback Brett Batteford polished off a seven-play drive with a four-yard touchdown scamper. That scoring drive featured nothing but runs, as the Tigers ran it right down the Giants’ throat. That certainly set the tone for the game. 

Jena followed that score with an 11-play drive that ended with a fourth down stop by the Tigers defense.

"We knew going in that they would want to control the clock with the split back veer," Neville head coach Jeff Tannehill said. "They ran some good counters off of it. We scored pretty quick three times, so the defense was on the field a lot." 

Neville’s defensive unit continued to leave a mark in the game, as Griffin McGee housed an interception he made in the second quarter. That gave the Tigers a 14-0 advantage. 

Jena scored on an 18-yard pass and converted the two-point conversion to trail 14-8 late in the quarter. But the Tigers can always strike fast, especially with "Mr. Quick Six" in the backfield. 

Neville running back A.J. Allen broke free in the third quarter on a 65-yard score to give the Tigers a 21-8 lead at halftime. Allen found the end zone again in the third quarter, as he finished with 158 rushing yards and two scores just on 11 carries. Allen has nine total touchdowns through the first three ballgames. 

"He's lived up to everything we thought he would so far," Tannehill said. 

Batteford also averaged more than 10 yards per carry in the victory, as he rushed for 116 yards and a score on 10 attempts.

Defensively, Maurion Eleam recorded a turnover for the Tigers for the second straight game. He was credited with an interception one week after causing a fumble against Ouachita.

Rudy Dozier, Henton Roberts, Jaylon Blackston, Kendall January, Isaiah Brown and Henry Cagle each recorded tackles for loss in the victory.  

"(Defensive coordinator) Mike Collins has been coaching for 35 years or so, and he's seen it all at every level," Tannehill said. "His knowledge is overwhelming. He does an unbelievable job. He knows how to work with the kids. I'm just lucky we were able to grab him and hire him." 

The Tigers held Jena to just 161 yards of offense on 61 plays, while totaling 295 yards on just 29 plays. Neville was just 2-for-4 passing with 12 yards.

Up next for the Tigers is a showdown with St. Thomas More, who picked up its first victory of the season last week against Plaquemine. The Cougars took out some frustration in that 63-0 win after falling to Madison Prep Academy and Alexandria Senior High to start the year.

"Obviously we know that St. Thomas More is a fine football team," Tannehill said. "We have a lot of preparation to do with (Walker Howard). We'll have our hands full stopping him. He can throw it on a dot. We'll have to play keep away a little bit. I hope Mr. Quick Six can score quick, but hopefully he can handle the ball and we can play keep away from them." 

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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