O’Neal’s 3 TDs push Dragons to next round

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 13, 2000

TALLULAH McCall’s defense set up Erath in Friday night’s first-round Louisiana Class 2A playoff game, and Jeramie O’Neal, Dave Williams and the rest of the Dragon offense knocked the Bobcats down.

O’Neal rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries and Williams threw for 185 yards and three fourth-quarter scores on 9-of-21 passing including one TD to O’Neal as McCall (10-1) converted three Erath (6-5) turnovers into touchdowns and a 33-12 win.

Altogether, the Tallulah school’s defense forced six turnovers, including three interceptions by Henry Guy, and stopped two Erath drives inside the Dragon 20.

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Erath running back Ted Toupes rushed for 87 yards and quarterback Adam Davis threw for 90 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.

McCall advances to face St. Thomas Aquinas next Friday in Hammond.

“In the first half the defense set the tone and in the second half we came out and played better,” Williams said. “It’s big because we came out last year and didn’t even make it to the playoffs … This was the first step to going to the Dome …”

An Erath fumble on the game’s opening possession set up O’Neal’s first TD run, a 5-yarder with 9:30 left in the first quarter. He added an impressive 57-yarder up the middle in the second quarter, breaking tackles deep into the secondary before breaking away.

Erath cut into the lead shortly before halftime and had a chance to tie in the closing moments of the first half.

Erath used a fumble-rooskie play where the ball is snapped and immediately set down at the line of scrimmage and picked up by the guard for a 20-yard TD run by David Richard.

“When they gave us the film, that play wasn’t on there,” McCall coach Levi Washington said with a laugh.

After a McCall interception, Erath got the ball at the McCall 20 and quickly drove the ball to the Dragon 5 with under two minutes to play. McCall’s defense stiffened there, however, making a goal-line stand that turned the momentum.

The swarming Dragon defense allowed only 87 yards in the first half.

“The goal-line stand was the one thing that really brought the momentum back to us,” Washington said.

Penalties and a fumble early in the fourth quarter thwarted McCall’s first two second-half drives, both of which went inside the Bobcat 20. But McCall’s defense came up big again, forcing two turnovers on the next three plays.

Williams helped turned them into 21 fourth-quarter points, first finding Guy for an 11-yard touchdown with 10:08 left in the fourth to give McCall an 18-6 lead, then hitting O’Neal for another 11-yard TD with 4:58 left to put the game away.

Williams connected with George Edwards for a third score on a 27-yard pass with 22 seconds remaining, sending Erath and its nearly 600 fans who made the 4-hour trip with the team home with a bitter loss.

“We played well, we just didn’t score when we needed to score. I felt like we were going to win it … until we had those two turnovers,” Erath coach Jacob Byler said. “It’ll be a long trip, but I don’t think it’ll be that long. It’s not like these kids didn’t give it their best effort ….”