September 30, 2012 1:53:38 AM
MACON -- The Noxubee County High School football team celebrated Senior Night on Friday with a 29-0 victory against Kosciusko in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 game.
With all the excitement of pregame activities honoring its undefeated and third ranked (Max Prep) team, the Tigers encountered a determined opponent that held them scoreless through the first quarter.
When the potent Tiger offense finally ignited, a DeAngelo Ballard to Darrell Robinson screen pass put the Tigers into the end zone with only 50 seconds remaining until halftime. From this point, three more scores helped Class 4A's top-ranked team improve to 7-0.
"We started off slow tonight. Several of our players did not play. It's been a busy week and a lot of activities for our team. I think this contributed to us coming out and not being in rhythm," Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter said. "This was our "bad game" and hopefully since we've gotten our bad game out of the way we can move on and play like I know we can. Kosciusko was well prepared and they are a very good football team. Coach (Tyler) Peterson had them ready to play."
Kosciusko (2-5) succeeded in upsetting the rhythm of the Noxubee County defense by utilizing a shotgun offense with two backs behind its quarterback. Turnovers proved crucial and prevented the Whippets from penetrating into the red zone during the first half.
At halftime, the Tigers mustered only one score and led 8-0.
"I told them at half-time just to relax and play like they are capable. I just told them to settle down and play their positions," Shorter said.
The second half unfolded entirely different thanks to the company of Bradley, Rice, Ryland, and Moran, Inc. The stellar play of All-State defensive lineman Dylan Bradley, who blocked a Mitchell Meyer punt allowed linebacker Jeremy Hunt to recover the football at the Whippet 11 yard-line. On the third offensive play of the drive running back Darrell Robinson smacked it up the middle for his third and final touchdown of the contest.
"We stopped them in the second half. We have to stop our opponents if we are going to be a championship team. As a defensive captain, I talked to my team. I told them we had to come out and play in second half. We needed to be motivated. We work on pursuit drills where everybody runs to the ball. We did this second half and did not in the first half. With pursuit, everybody is going for the ball. This is what we did and we held them without a score," Bradley said.
In the fourth quarter Antonio Ryland, Jose Moran, Edrion Rice, and Bradley erected a defensive wall that stopped Kosciusko running backs, pressured quarterbacks, and refused any deep penetration by the Whippets. The Tiger "Wall of Power" stood Kosciusko offensive linemen upright and plugged holes sending running backs into second-half negative yardage.
The "Wall" was assisted by its associates, twin linebackers Eric and Jeremy Hunt who plugged the outside and refusing to allow any rushing threats around their ends. Tiger defensive back Antravion Jamison picked off a Rajheem Jamison pass and ran it in 23 yards down the opponent's side of the field to pay dirt. With 3:22 remaining in the third quarter the Tigers turned the tide and led 15-0 after a Zack Kaufman extra point.
"We went back in the second half and did everything we were supposed to do the first half. Number 3 (Jabri Selmon) was a good and fast player. But we had to treat this and every game like a playoff game" Jeremy Hunt said.
"Coach told us not to take them lightly but I think we did. The blocked punt turned the game around and really got our offense clicking. As a linebacker I was up against the slot man and did coverage. If they ran the ball, my job was to be the clean-up man and not let them get around the end" linebacker Eric Hunt said.
Though beset by one turnover and eight penalties, the Tigers overcame uncharacteristic sloppy play.
In a game where a fan expected the high-rolling offensive duo of Robinson and Ballard to put points on the board, they were not disappointed. The focus of this football matchup was the determination of the Tigers' defense, which posted its fourth shutout of the season.
Kosciusko hosts Louisville next Friday night. Noxubee County travels to division opponent Leake Central in Carthage.