May 14, 2010 8:37:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Turnovers are devastating in any season.
A good team makes you pay for them in the spring, too.
Buoyed by a strong running attack, the Noxubee County High School football team capitalized on four turnovers to beat New Hope 28-20 in the spring finale for both teams.
The result helped Tyrone Shorter, who was officially approved Monday to replace M.C. Miller as the program''s new coach, begin his tenure in style against a Class 5A team that has plenty of returning talent from last season when it advanced to the North Half State title game.
"Offensively, we played pretty good," said Shorter, who spent 11 years as an assistant to Miller. "We''re young on offense. Our two sophomore running backs (Antonio Ryland and Darrell Robinson) did a good job. Our junior quarterback (Jared Johnson) and our sophomore quarterback (D''Angelo Ballard) did a good job, too. Defensively, I am a little worried. We started three sophomores and a few juniors. We have a lot of work to do. Still, we played decent enough."
Noxubee County used a touchdown run by Ryland and another offensive score by linebacker Corey Williams, a senior, to take a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
New Hope answered in the second quarter thanks to a 37-yard touchdown run by Johnny Beamon.
But the Class 4A Tigers, who went 12-2 last season, struck back on an 85-yard kick return for a touchdown by Ladarrell Hunt.
The Trojans cut into the lead with 1 minute, 44 seconds to go before halftime on a 13-yard scoring run by Terrance Dentry. Tanner Ryals'' kick made it 20-14.
New Hope, which went 11-2 last season, tied the game with 2:02 to go in the third quarter on a touchdown run by Dentry, but Ryals'' extra-point attempt was blocked.
Noxubee County took the lead for good with 7:20 remaining. Robinson appeared to be stopped well behind the line of scrimmage, but he escaped at least two tacklers and then broke another tackle at the line of scrimmage and scampered 40 yards to make it 26-20. Ballard''s conversion run accounted for the final score.
New Hope looked to be moving into position for a potential equalizer. Dentry broke two tackles and was on his way to a big gain before he fumbled on the left sideline to give Noxubee County the ball with 5:47 to play.
New Hope also fumbled on the 1-yard line in the second quarter trailing 20-7. After the defense held, New Hope muffed the ensuing punt to give the ball right back to Noxubee County.
"It is hard to win any game, anytime, anywhere when you turn the ball over, but you have to give Noxubee County the credit," New Hope High coach Michael Bradley said. "They made the plays and they created those turnovers. They pressured us, and they have a lot of speed on defense. They put us in some situations we didn''t want to be in."
The mistakes frustrated Bradley, who said his team also didn''t tackle well, among other things.
"Our playmakers made some plays, but we just have to hold on to the football," Bradley said. "We had some areas where they stunted (on our offensive line) and came through some open gaps that shouldn''t have been open, I will have to take a look at the tape to see, but you don''t have to give our running backs much of a running lane."
New Hope''s defense held, but Noxubee County was up to the task. Jacoby Jones, who had an interception earlier in the game, had a sack on second down to set up a long-yardage attempt. The Tigers had two defenders break free on third down to pressure quarterback Zak Thrasher, who threw low to Dentry on a short pass.
Forced to punt, New Hope looked to try to save its three timeouts and had the Tigers at third down, but Robinson rushed for a first down with 1:38 to go that helped seal the deal.
In past years with Patrick Patterson or Vincent Sanders at wide receiver, the Tigers might have thrown the ball to get a first down. But Shorter believes the 2010 team, even though it doesn''t have an offensive line coach on staff, has the potential to move the ball on the ground. He said three seniors up front should be able to open running lanes for Robinson and Ryland.
"I have been coaching them since seventh grade, so I know what they can do," Shorter said. "I have confidence in our offensive line. They wanted to do. They said, ''Coach, let''s run the ball,'' and we got the first down. I have a lot of confidence in our backs."
Tommy Lane and Jacoby Harris also had sacks for Noxubee County.
For New Hope, the performance gave Bradley plenty to use to motivate his team the rest of the offseason.
"I didn''t think we played with a lot of intensity (on defense)," Bradley said. "I don''t think we ran to the ball very well. These are all trademarks of our team. We play with effort, intensity, and emotion, and I didn''t see a lot of that at all. I hope we fix some of those things this summer and don''t fall in love with ourselves and think we''re good and take this as a lesson and learn from it."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.