By Kyle Roberts
Senior receiver Aaron Jackson made sure his 2022 return to Ruston counted Friday night against his old team, the Neville Tigers.
Bringing in three touchdown receptions with 126 yards, Jackson pulled in some awesome grabs to propel the Bearcats to a 27-21 win, while the defense fended off a fierce Tiger comeback in the fourth quarter.
“I’m so proud for him,” Ruston head coach Jerrod Baugh said. “We always knew he was a good receiver, and we missed him last season when he was gone. Obviously, he makes a good impact for our football team. Neville’s a good football team, and they stacked defenders and left Aaron on one-on-one. We knew he could get those most of the time, so it was good.”
Ruston improved to 4-1 on the season and has won four straight games against stiff competition. Friday’s game against Neville wrapped up non-district play for the Bearcats.
Jackson put the Bearcats up with his third touchdown reception of the game with 5:59 left to go to give Ruston its largest lead up to that point at 27-14. Neville would score one last touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it would not prove enough as Ruston held on.
With 3:54 left in the third quarter, Jackson hauled in a 72-yard touchdown reception to give Ruston a 21-14 lead.
Neville struck first with a 30 yard touchdown run by Jaylon Nichols on a 4th and 1 with 5:53 left in the first quarter.
Ruston responded after a blocked field goal attempt by Neville on a 12-play, 93-yard drive that was set up in part by a 46-yard reception by senior fullback Lajaveon Ellis on a catch out of the flats. Senior Dyson Fields capped off the drive with a one-yard rush for the touchdown at the 8:11 mark in the first half.
“Our special teams have done an amazing job all season making plays like that to give us a little momentum,” Baugh said. “Last week, it was onside kicks; this week a blocked field goal.”
The Bearcats capitalized on an opportunity late in the first with a perfect touchdown throw to senior receiver Aaron Jackson with 43 seconds left to take the lead 14-7. It was the first lead of the night for Ruston and they took it into the halftime locker room.
Neville answered on its first drive of the third quarter with a six yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jaden Gibson to tie the game 14-14.
Osborn threw 190 yards on 9 of 18 passing with three touchdowns, all to Jackson. Fields finished with 92 yards and one touchdown before going out in the fourth quarter on a hard hit to his knee.
“Jaden did a great job throwing the ball tonight,” Baugh said. “I feel like our kids can do that, whatever is needed on offense. Last week, it was lining up and running the ball. This week, we had to make some throws. I feel comfortable doing whatever it is we need to do.”
Ruston will kickoff District 2-5A play on the road Friday, Oct. 7, against Alexandria Senior High on the road. The game will be broadcast live on Z107.5 FM and on BearcatNationNetwork.com. The Jerrod Baugh show will start at 6:30 p.m.
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