Bastrop (4-0), ranked No. 4 in the nation by rivals.com, jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on Stanley Moore’s acrobatic, 17-yard touchdown reception.
Rayville (3-2) responded with 19 unanswered points.
PhaQuinton Lawson’s 1-yard sneak, which capped a 13-play, 85-yard drive, put the Hornets on the board. Lawson also booted the extra point, giving Rayville a 7-6 lead.
After forcing a Bastrop punt, the Hornets regained possession at their own 28. Three plays later, on the final play of the first quarter, Kenny Bell beat man coverage for a 69-yard touchdown reception. Two series later, the Hornets drove 51 yards on six plays, with Lawson sneaking into the endzone on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Lawson’s second touchdown gave the Hornets a surprising 19-6 lead with 4:21 remaining at halftime.
Bastrop slowed the Hornets’ momentum just before halftime as Moore’s second touchdown catch of the game closed the gap to 19-14.
Four third quarter turnovers led to the Hornets’ demise.
RaDarius Winston’s 29-yard interception return on the third play of the second half set up Rueben Randle’s 49-yard touchdown scamper, which put the Rams in front 22-19. Rayville marched into Bastrop territory on its next series, picking up a first down at the 35. That’s when things began to unravel.
Scooping up a fumbled exchange on the handoff in the backfield, Bastrop outside linebacker Tai (Speedy) Alford dashed 59 yards to paydirt. Suddenly, the Hornets found themselves down 30-19 with 8:07 remaining in the third period.
“That play changed the whole game around,” Rayville coach Bo Barton said. “We knew we had to play mistake-free. We had five turnovers that resulted in touchdowns and two of those were defensive touchdowns. You don’t do that against the Rams and come out with a win.”
Continuing to put up a fight, the Hornets responded with an 80-yard touchdown pass from Lawson to Wenzell Robinson, closing the gap to 30-25. But the Hornets’ defense had no answer for Randle, Bastrop’s senior quarterback, in the second half. Randle broke free on a 60-yard run on second-and-25, setting up his own 4-yard TD plunge to give the Rams a 38-25 advantage with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter.
“They converted way too many third-and-longs,” Barton said.
Rayville turned the ball over in its own territory on its ensuing possession, with the Rams taking over at the 41 on Dontavious Moore’s fumble recovery. Seven plays later, Randle scored from seven yards out to put the Rams up 44-25.
Winston’s second pick set up Dwight Hawkins 2-yard run, before Keldrick Anderson wrapped up the Rams’ scoring with a 64-yard interception return.
Rayville got back on the board when Lawson flipped an 8-yard pass to Kendricks Spencer with 38 ticks remaining.
Completing seven straight passes at one point, Lawson threw for 212 yards by halftime, before finishing with 377. Three different receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Bell led the way with four catches for 123 yards, followed by Devario Thornton with seven for 109 and Robinson with 105.
“We knew we could throw the football,” Barton said. “You’re not going to run it on their front four. We just couldn’t sustain what we were trying to do in the second half. I was proud of our effort. Before they returned the fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter, I thought we did a pretty good job. That one play changed the whole game around.”
Rayville returns home Friday to face Madison Parish.