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

Jeff Tannehill had what many coaches across the state would call a good problem in Neville’s 41-7 quarterfinal victory Friday night. His second team didn’t execute well…

“Substitutions and things like that, we challenged our guys, and I just didn’t think we played well in the second half,” Tannehill said.

Of course, Tannehill did admit he was being a perfectionist. And that’s part of the gig, but even Tannehill admitted the Tigers offense played extremely well in the first half and the defense remained a constant strength of his football team against No. 7 Cecilia.

The (11-1) No. 2 Neville Tigers out-gained the Bulldogs, 448-44, in that quarterfinal win, and that now sets up the matchup Northeast Louisiana fans have been wanting since they first saw the brackets. No. 3 (8-2) Warren Easton, fresh off of its 63-7 victory against Belle Chase in the quarterfinals, will make the trip to play against the Tigers in Bill Ruple Stadium. Easton’s only losses this season came against Catholic – B.R. and Edna Karr. The Eagles actually led Karr late before ultimately falling to the Cougars in a 20-18 hard-fought contest back in October.

“They were beating Karr all the way up until the end, so you know they have a very good football team,” Tannehill said. “They’re big up front on defense. They have a pretty good tailback too, No. 3. So it’ll be two great No. 3 tailbacks going at it.”

Neville’s “great tailback,” A.J. Allen, accounted for 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns on nine carries in the win Friday night, while quarterback Brett Batteford completed all five passes for 70 yards and two scores to go along with 153 yards and another score on 10 carries.

“A.J. popped a couple early runs, and Brett hit a couple touchdown passes,” Tannehill said. "The offensive line did an outstanding job. And the tight ends played really well too.”

Neville entered the quarterfinal round having allowed just 8.6 points per game this season and found a way to hold Cecilia to under that average. The Bulldogs' lone score came after a blocked punt gave Cecilia a short field late in the third quarter.

“Our defense has played great all year, and tonight was nothing less than outstanding,” Tannehill said.

The Tigers started the game with “Mr. Quick Six” once again living up to his nickname. Allen scored on runs of 55 and 64 yards in the first quarter. Batteford then hit Aaron Jackson for a six-yard score before finding Lorenzell Dubose on a 42-yard strike to lead Cecilia, 27-0, at halftime.

Batteford’s 86-yard run followed by Maurion Eleam’s fumble recovery for a score capped the Tigers’ dominant night.

Neville will look to improve to 12-1 on the season and punch a ticket to the Superdome with a win against Easton in Bill Ruple Stadium Friday night. 

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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