It was a wet field and a rainy night in Minden on Friday. The sloppy conditions played perfectly into Haynesville’s hands as they defeated the Tide 14-2.
The first half was a defensive struggle, but both teams kept the ball on the ground for the most part, which is the Golden Tornado’s specialty.
Late in the first half, Minden defensive back Jacareon Lathan lept a few feet in the air to intercept a Haynesville pass. As he came down, he squirmed his way through the crowded area and broke a number of tackles on his way to returning the interception for a touchdown. The interception stood, but the touchdown was called back on an illegal block in the back that put Minden at midfield instead of up by a touchdown.
“We had too many penalties and plays like that,” Minden head coach Spencer Heard said.
Minden put together a nice drive following that touchdown reversal though, as quarterback Trenton McLaughlin threw a few acrobatic passes across his body to find Zac Gage twice to put the Tide inside the Haynesville red zone.
But McLaughlin was intercepted two plays later in the end zone that stalled the drive and kept the score at 0-0.
“We had a lot of dropped balls on offense, and we took some shots at the end zone,” Heard said. “Our guys have to go up and try to get to the high point of the ball in those cases. Their defense did a great job of that.”
The Tide started the second half rolling. They marched down the field with a string of first downs, one to running back Izaiah Smith on a screen pass. The drive ended in another end zone interception by the Tornado.
“I told our guys that they have a choice, we can point fingers at each other or we can take a look in the mirror and come back to work on Monday in order to get better,” Heard said.
The turnover didn’t directly cost the Tide, as Haynesville (2-0) punted the following possession.
McLaughlin scrambled for twenty yards on a third-and-ten the next possession, but the momentum soon stalled as the next play was called back for holding.
Gage was McLaughlin’s favorite receiver all night, and he caught a 25-yard pass on the same possession to keep the drive alive.
In the fourth quarter, Minden appeared to have a huge play on a run by Lieric Robinson, but another late flag for an illegal shift called the play back.
Haynesville scored on the next possession on a run by Kedrick Grider that put the Tornado up 7-0 with 7:07 left in the game.
McLaughlin found Gage twice for completions of twenty and ten yards before a fumbled handoff gave the ball back to Haynesville.
The Tornado punted the next possession, but it was a deadly kick that rolled down to the Minden two yard line before being downed.
The Tide needed to drive 98 yards in three minutes to get back into the game. Minden’s backs were proverbially against the wall.
On the first play, McLaughlin looked for Gage over the middle. The ball was thrown just a hair behind Gage, and the ball bounced off his hands for an incomplete. The second play was a wild throw on a screen pass, setting up third down. McLaughlin threaded a needle to find Gage, but it hit the grass for an incomplete.
Heard elected to go for it on fourth down.
“We only had one timeout, so I was thinking that if we punted it, we might get the ball back with under a minute, at best,” Heard said. “So we went for it, took a chance.”
McLaughlin looked for a receiver over the middle, but the play was broken up nicely by Haynesville’s defensive backs. There was a light cry for pass interference, but it appeared to be clean.
The next play following the turnover on downs, Sergio Hardwell scored for the Tornado to put them up 14-0 with 3:09 left in the game.
“We need to work on catching the ball next week, we dropped a ton of passes tonight,” Heard said. “Those plays are chain-movers, and we need those in our favor.”
Minden (0-2) scored a late safety to bring the score to it’s final, 14-2.
The Tide play host to North Webster next Friday at The Pit.
North Desoto 42, North Webster 7
Lakeside 60, Montgomery 42