The Greenacres Mustangs and Elm Grove Eagles split Bossier Parish middle school district football games Thursday night at Airline Stadium.
The Mustangs built a big first-half lead and then held off the Eagles in the second for a 34-28 victory in the eighth-grade game.
The Eagles rallied in the fourth quarter for a 20-16 victory in a hard-fought seventh-grade game.
The eighth-grade game looked like it was going to be a rout early on.
Greenacres quarterback Noah Hildebrand, brother of Airline quarterback Hayden Hildebrand, threw three touchdown passes in the first half to give the Mustangs a 22-0 lead.
As it turned out, one of the game’s biggest plays came on the final play of the half.
Elm Grove’s Caleb Laboy caught a pass and went out of bounds at the Greenacres 11. The clock ticked down to :00 but officials ruled 1 second remained, giving the Eagles one more play.
Greenacres brought pressure on the quarterback. Darien Nelson intercepted a desperation pass and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a 28-0 lead at the break.
Elm Grove came out strong in the second half, scoring on its first drive. Malcolm Banks dashed in from 11 yards out. The conversion failed and Greenacres led 28-6.
On the Mustangs’ first offensive play of the second half, Joshua James broke loose for a 61-yard touchdown run to make it 34-6.
.James had a big night. He also caught two touchdown passes and made a big 11-yard run late in the game.
Elm Grove’s Colten Nicholas then found Caleb Laboy open deep for a long touchdown pass.
After the Eagles recovered a fumble, a Banks’ run and reception moved the ball to the 7. Kade Wallace ran to the 1, and Banks scored on the next play. Stephen Irby’s conversion run made it 34-20 with 5:50 left in the game.
With 3:25 left, Nicholas hooked up with Banks for a 35-yard score. Irby’s conversion run made it 34-28.
James’ 11-yard run and a 30-yard pass from Hildebrand to Anthony Mulrenin put Greenacres at the Elm Grove 21.
But the Eagles had a final chance to tie or win after recovering a fumble on the next play.
The Greenacres defense did its job, though. The Eagles couldn’t move and the clock ran out.
Greenacres coach Justin James cited Joshua James, Mulrenin, Chris Davenport and Anthony Durgin for their defensive play.
Davenport also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the first half. Mulrenin helped set up a touchdown with a nice catch.
Elm Grove coach Mark Tabor praised the defensive play of Zach Schmid, Nick Sooto and Banks.
The seventh-grade game also wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter.
Greenacres built a 16-0 in the first half. Coby McGee and David Maxey had rushing touchdowns. Maxey and Jalen Brown scored conversions.
Elm Grove scored just before the half on a 40-yard pass from Knije Harrison to Jerry Couch.
Harrison hit Levar Allen for 10 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter to get the Eagles within four.
Quandarious Harris scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a 60-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He also added the conversion.
Tabor said Harrison also played well on defense at linebacker. Other standouts included noseguard Eric Williams, end Matthew McKee and linebacker Trace Schmid.