Trojans suffer first loss of season on homecoming night By ADAM DAIGLE

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

FERRIDAY, La. &045; With the homecoming festivities in full swing, a full house at Melz Field and the Ferriday Trojans playing a level of confidence they haven’t had in three years, head coach James McFarland was worried.

Everything, he thought, may have been too good too early.

The hunch was right, and the Trojans struggled on both sides of the ball Friday night in a 34-13 loss to Red River. They had problems stopping both the run and the pass, lacked consistency on defense and never could answer Red River’s offensive attack.

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But as bad as things were, everyone knows it’s still plenty early.

&8221;I like homecoming, but I’m scared to death of homecoming,&8220; McFarland said. &8221;It’s hard to keep them focused. But we’ll come back next week and work hard. When you go and hear how good you are, you may not realize you’ve got some vulnerability. I think this loss will help us. I don’t want to lose, but I’d rather lose now than in the first round of the playoffs.&8220;

Credit the Bulldogs (4-2) for playing tough on both sides of the ball and exploiting weaknesses in a defense that allowed only 24 points through four games up until Friday. Much of it came from quarterback Al Lewis, who threw for 208 yards, and the ground game that put up 187 yards.

And as much pageantry there was on the Ferriday side, it was the Bulldogs who did the most rejoicing afterward.

&8221;They’ve got an outstanding ball club and an outstanding coaching staff,&8220; Red River head coach Reginald Prealow said. &8221;We just feel real blessed to come in here and do what we did. I’m proud of my guys for stepping up. We didn’t play well last week, and we kind of redeemed ourselves. Tonight the kids stepped it up in all phases, and I’m just proud of them.&8220;

The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half with a big pass play that eventually put the game away. Lewis hit Clifford Jones on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 8:16 left in the fourth that put their lead to 28-13.

The Trojans (4-1) couldn’t answer, despite Matt Smith’s kickoff kickoff return near midfield and a 15-yard Red River facemasking penalty. Terrance Johnson tried to stretch out on a fourth-and-2 situation and was close enough to get a measurement, but it was just short of the first down.

Red River followed with a punishing ground game to get a score. Fullback Casey Thompson ran twice for 54 yards before Cadeiro Lewis finished it up with a 12-yard touchdown run for the 34-13 lead at the 4:31 mark.

Two plays later Johnson had a pass intercepted by Lewis.

&8221;I can’t take anything away from them,&8220; McFarland said. &8221;They came in here ready to play. We just didn’t play well. They beat us up front on the offensive and defensive lines. They beat us in the trenches, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t know if we stopped them on third down the entire game. What they did is what we do &045; we try to use the pass to open up the run. It got us back on our heels.&8220;

The offensive consistency was not there for the Trojans, and the Bulldogs kept the pressure up front to to contain the run and prevent Johnson or Kendric Harris from rolling out at the quarterback spot.

Johnson shot up the middle late in the third quarter for a touchdown on a 24-yard run that could have ignited the offense, but the Bulldogs clamped down.

The Trojans’ other score came early in the second quarter on a halfback pass when Montario Tennessee hit Alonzo Booth on a 50-yard touchdown pass.

The Bulldogs answered that score with an 11-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Lewis breaking a 10-yard run along the right sideline for a touchdown with 6:26 to go.

Their next drive ended in another score with Lewis hitting Robert McDonald on a 22-yard pass for a score for a 14-7 lead that stood until halftime.

&8221;I think we were balanced tonight,&8220; Prealow said. &8221;In the past we’ve been throwing the ball, and I think they thought we were going to throw the ball. We established the run, and I think that opened up the pass a little bit. We executed pretty well, and we made the plays when we had to make them. On key downs we made first downs and were able to keep the drive going.&8220;