By Marco Clark, exclusive to the Times
The Chiefs celebrated homecoming Friday night with a big win against their district rival, the Pineville Rebels. The Chiefs scored a season-high 54 points while holding the Rebels to 34. Before the game, head coach Byron Keller said, “This game, unlike the other games we have played, has important significance. A win tonight can build up confidence in our players after losing a tough one last week to Alexandria Senior High. We can also reassure our fans and the community that we are moving in the right direction to becoming a good football team again.”
Picking up action in the first quarter, the Chiefs received the kick-off. The Chiefs picked up two first downs but the offense stalled forcing the Chiefs to punt. Pineville takes over on the Chiefs 44 yard-line and the Rebels would take advantage of the field position to score a touchdown on four plays. The extra point was good giving the Rebels a 7 point lead with 5:58 left on the clock.
Pineville kicked off to the Chiefs who took over on their 21 yard-line. NCHS would lose 4 yards on the run play putting the Chiefs behind the chains on the 17 yard-line. The next play brought life to the team and crowd as Trey Solitaire took the hand-off from Jaylin White for an 83-yard touchdown run. PAT no good, 7-6 Rebels.
The Rebels would waste little time advancing the ball on their next possession into the Chiefs territory to score a touchdown with 3 minutes left on the clock. PAT good, 14-6 Pineville.
The Chiefs took over on their own 35 after receiving the kick-off from the Rebels. NCHS would cross the goal-line on a 30-yard pass from White to Jeremiah Aaron. The two-point conversion run by Solitaire was good to knot it up at 14 all. Pineville starts at their 25 and attempt a run on their first play from scrimmage but fumble the hand-off. The Chiefs recover the ball with 1 minute left in the first quarter. The Chiefs use two running plays to end the first and start the second deep in Rebels territory. The home team works their way to the 3, but face a 4th and goal situation.
Coach Keller elected to go for it reaching the end zone with a 3-yard run by quarterback White to put the Chiefs in front for the first time. PAT by William Bernard was good, 21-14 Chiefs. The Rebels take over at their own 19, but the Chiefs defense stop them short of getting a first down forcing a punt. The Chiefs would fall short of getting a first down on a fourth and short play, turning the ball over on downs to Pineville. The Rebels would take over on their own 22. Pineville would not squander this opportunity to put points on the board before the end of the half. The Rebels used a mixture of running and passing to make their way down the field capping off the drive with a 23-yard run into the end zone by running back Ben West. PAT good, 21-21.
The Chiefs start their next drive on the Rebels19. Solitaire scored another touchdown to increase their lead, 28-21. Pineville would take over on their own 35. NCHS defense smothered the Rebels once again forcing another punt. The Chief’s Devonte’ Snow partially blocked the punt attempt giving Natchitoches Central great field position. The Chiefs start at the Rebels 13 and White would reach the end zone stretching the lead 34-21. PAT no good. The Rebels take over at the 38-yard line to start the second half. They run the ball for a 4-yard gain. The second play was stopped for no gain and the third play would spell disaster for the Rebels but benefit the Chiefs quite well. A 35-yard pick six by linebacker Derrick Williams ignited the home crowd. PAT good, 41-21 Chiefs.
After taking a substantial lead the Chiefs coaching staff decided to make mass substitutions allowing some younger plays to get valuable playing time. Pineville would execute a flawless kick return by Troy Hall, but a holding call would negate the score. Pineville offense takes over at their own 38 and the Rebels attempt a running play but fumble giving control back to the Chief offense. The Chiefs cap off a 41-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Derrick Payne. PAT good, 48-21. Pineville would take over at their own 37. The Rebels accounted for three first downs on this drive capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass from West to Cordell Richardson. PAT good, 48-28 deficit for the rebels.
Chiefs take over on their 20 and use a running play to gain 5-yards. The second play, however, was a big one. Quarterback Derienne Robinson hit Solitaire for 10-yard quick slant turning the ball up the field for a 75-yard touchdown. PAT no good, 54-28. The Rebels would receive the kick-off and use the rest of the clock to take the game into the fourth quarter. The Rebels would use a 6-minute drive but turned the ball over on downs. The Chief’s would take over on their 20. The Chiefs gain two first downs but were forced to punt. Pineville takes over on their own 26. The Rebels picked up two first downs and hit a big one on a 50-yard pass from West to J’kameron Thomas. PAT good making the final score 54-35 Chiefs.
With this win the Chiefs go to 3-5 on the season and 1-1 in district play. Natchitoches Central will celebrate their seniors Friday night against the visiting Lions of Ouachita Parish. Game time is 7 p.m.