September 16, 2012 12:56:21 AM
CRAWFORD -- East Oktibbeha County High School football coach Randy Brooks has been searching for consistency.
As the Titans strive for that level of performance, Brooks hopes to see more games like Friday night.
East Oktibbeha finally cracked the win column in Class 1A, Region 3 with a 33-24 victory against Ethel to improve to 2-3 and 1-1 in the region.
"We thought this could be a turn-around game for us," Brooks said. "We talked all week to the players how important the game was because it was a home game and a region game. You really can't afford to start off 0-2 in region play. I thought the kids really responded."
Ethel forced turnovers on East Oktibbeha's first two possessions. Still, the visiting Tigers could only build a 6-0 advantage.
East Oktibbeha's fortunes changed early in the second quarter when it scored twice in a stretch of three plays. Quarterback Justin Williams scored on a 4-yard run. Seconds later, Dion Clanton returned a fumble 10 yards for another score.
Williams led East Oktibbeha on another lengthy scoring march later in the half. This drive was capped with an 11-yard keeper for a score. Ethel trailed 19-12 at halftime.
"We really struggled to start," Brooks said. "I thought the kids did a great job of playing through some mistakes early. We were fortunate to not be behind more."
Ethel (2-3, 0-2) battled back with 18 straight points to grab a 24-19 lead. The late scoring push was fueled by East Oktibbeha's five turnovers.
East Oktibbeha battled back on a 35-yard scoring play involving Juwan Roberts and Williams. In the final minute, Williams' third rushing score sealed the deal. The junior quarterback had a team-high 154 rushing yards. He threw for 81 yards.
"It has taken us a while to get back home, hopefully this will be a spark," Brooks said. "We have three of our final six games at home, so now is the time to put together some momentum. We have to take care of the ball to have any chance."
East Oktibbeha will travel Friday to West Lowndes for another region game.
n West Oktibbeha 52, Nanih Waiya 21: At Maben, The Timberwolves also found region play to their liking Friday night.
Behind six touchdowns from Tiberias Lampkin, West Oktibbeha rolled in its Class 1A, Region 3 opener.
"Nanih Waiya is rebuilding, but they are still one of the powers," West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowery said. "I am really proud of Tiberias. He has worked very hard to get to this point. He really carried us tonight."
In last week's 41-10 loss to Eupora, Lampkin didn't play in the second half due to cramps. After a week of hard work, the senior captain was determined to be there for his team.
In addition to Lampkin's play-making ability, Lowery praised the strong push by offensive linemen Donovan Henderson, Davarius West, Johnny Chambers, Zane Watson, and Michael Graise.
"The offensive line blocked their tails off," Lowery said. "We had a week to regroup after a tough loss to Eupora. We really worked a little harder in practice. This was the first region game, so we need we had some areas we needed to improve on."
West Oktibbeha (3-1, 1-0) started strong when quarterback Von Smith hit Lavante Bell for an 87-yard touchdown on the game's first possession. The Timberwolves racked up 304 first-half yards and led 33-6 at halftime.
Lampkin ran for 174 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown run.
"Winning the first region game is important because these are the ones that count," Lowery said. "I thought it was a good response after the loss last week. However, we have to keep getting better. Our goal is to win games in November when it really matters most."
West Oktibbeha continues region play Friday night at Weir.
n Hebron Christian 36, Mt. Salus 8: At Pheba, The Eagles (5-0) reached the midway point of a potential undefeated regular season by routing Mt. Salus for Homecoming.
Hebron Christian scored on its first three possessions and built a 30-0 halftime lead.
"We wanted to come out strong, that was the main goal," Hebron Christian coach David Foster said. "We thought this would be a chance to work on some things and to get better as a team. Fortunately, we did have a quick start and that allowed us to get several players into the game."
In the first quarter, Taylor Coggins scored on runs of 20 and 45 yards. Will-Corben Rogers followed with a 49-yard touchdown run. In the second quarter, Coggins added a 5-yard touchdown run. Roger returned an interception 99 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
Rogers rushed for a pair of two-point conversions and also passed to Ryan Moore for another.
"Offensively, we had a fast start," Foster said. "The offensive line did a great job. The kids played with a lot of enthusiasm. Sometimes, Homecoming can make you start a little slow. Instead, we came out and moved the ball well on the first couple of possessions. That set the tone for the game."
Coggins led the way with 11 rushes for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Foster rushed seven times for 51 yards. Rogers had four rushes for 68 yards. In addition to his interception return for score, Rogers also had two punt returns for 68 total yards.
Channing Tapley led the way with 12 tackles. Ryan Moore added 11, while Collin Moore had seven tackles, a sack, and fumble recovery.
Mt. Salus erased the shutout with a 38-yard touchdown run on the game's final play.
"We wanted a shutout on defense," Foster said. "But I was very pleased with our effort on that side of the ball. We came close enough to the shutout for everybody to be happy."
Hebron Christian will play host to Central Academy on Friday night.
n Oak Hill Academy 21, Winona Christian 6: At West Point, The Raiders snapped a two-game losing streak with a hard-fought win at home.
Oak Hill Academy (3-2) led 7-0 at halftime and used back-to-back scores to start the second half.
"We made some really good halftime adjustments," Oak Hill Academy coach Daniel Merchant said. "They were loading the box in the first half, so we made a change at halftime and ran it more to the weak side. They opened up some holes and got our offense going."
Oak Hill Academy ran the ball 48 times for 216 yards, and completed 5 of 8 passes for 61 yards.
"In the second half, we really controlled the line of scrimmage, that was the difference in the ballgame," Merchant said. "We had some great ball control and we had two good long scoring drives. In the first half, we played well. Then, we made some changes and that allowed us to do more things."
Drew Riley hit Curt Huffman for a 19-yard halfback pass for the lone points of the first half. In the second half, Jeb Stevens scored on runs of 4 and 5 yards.
Drake Riley led Oak Hill Academy with 15 rushes for 90 yards. Stevens added 64 yards on 14 rushes and two scores. Sam Harrell rushed eight times for 51 yards. Quarterback Conner Baird was 4 of 7 for 42 yards. Huffman led all receivers with two catches for 29 yards.
Drew Riley had five tackles, two interceptions, and a sack. Blake Henley had three tackles and an interception. A.J. Iseley had a fumble recovery, while Joseph Caskey also had five tackles.
"This was a really big game of us because we had lost the last two," Merchant said. "But it is a different mentality around here now. Instead of getting down and out, the kids came back to practice and worked hard. This was probably the best week of practice we have had all year.
"The kids got to experience winning at the beginning of the year. Now, they are hungry for more of that. To stay positive and to keep working hard like that shows a lot of character and shows how far we have come."
Oak Hill Academy will play host to Class AA, District 2 leader Canton Academy Friday night Homecoming.
n Tabernacle 54, Victory Christian 12: At Gardendale, Ala., The Eagles suffered a tough offensive night in a loss to the Christian Football Association's league leader.
"We really didn't play up the level we needed to play to," Victory Christian coach Chris Hamm said. "Tabernacle has a veteran team. They have a lot of experience. It showed early in the game because they made things rough on us."
Tabernacle blew open the contest with three scores in the second quarter.
"The game was really tight in the first half," Hamm said. "We turned the ball over twice on fumbles and then threw an interception. That made things really difficult. We had a hard time building anything on offense. When we did, it seemed like we turned the ball over. They also converted a couple of on-side kicks against us."
Hamm thought the defense played quite well despite the large deficit.
"The defense actually played well enough the score does not reflect it," Hamm said. "We held their top back (Tristan Castro) under 100 years. Their coach after the game said that it was the first time all year that had happened, so we have a lot of things to build on defensively because we did a good job against a really quick, explosive team."
For Tabernacle (4-0, 3-0), Castro had three rushing touchdowns and also caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Lindsey. Justin Sims added two rushing scores.
Victory Christian (1-3, 1-1) received a 60-yard kickoff return for touchdown by sophomore Anthony Sharp. In the fourth quarter, Bryer Bolton hit Cody Bolton for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
"We just have to work at getting better," Hamm said. "They are a really great team, but we like another shot at them in the playoffs."
Victory Christian will play host to Evangel Christian on Friday night.
n Aberdeen 45, West Bolivar 28: At Rosa Fort, The Bulldogs (3-2) built an early lead and held on for the road victory.
Quarterback Josh Williams rushed for two scores and threw for two more. He scored twice on 1-yard touchdown runs. In the air, he found Sammie Burroughs on a 50-yard scoring play and Aaron McMillian on a 53-yard scoring play.
Chico Harrison added touchdown rushes of 1 and 20 yards.
Williams rushed for 74 yards and threw for 185 yards. Harrison added 71 rushing yards.
n Houston 37, Hamilton 0: At Hamilton, the homestanding Lions failed to reach 100 yards of total offense in the loss to the Class 4A Hilltoppers.
Houston improved to 5-0 and served notice it is ready to contend in Class 4A, Region 4 play, where traditional powers Louisville and Noxubee County reside.
Houston gained 355 rushing yards. Quarterback Sharon Wright ran 19 times for 200 yards, including touchdown runs of 4, 19, and 37 yards. Brandon Townsend added a 29-yard run, and Damien Fields had a 2-yard run. Emmitt Dendy also kicked a 36-yard field goal.
Hamilton (2-3) has followed each loss this season with a win. It will try to continue that trend next week with their final non-region game at Walnut.
n Kemper Academy 46, Central Academy 6: At Macon, The Rams used a strong ground attack to drop the Vikings to 0-5.
Russ Taylor's touchdown was the only score for Central Academy.
The highlight of the evenings Homecoming festivities was the crowning of Homecoming Queen Laura Lee Sansing.
Taylor led Central Academy with 39 yards rushing and 11 tackles. Colby Robbins had seven tackles. Dylan Manning had four solo tackles, followed by Darrell Tate and Jacob Craig with four tackles apiece.
T J Coleman had 20 yards rushing before leaving the game early in the second quarter with a high ankle sprain.
Central Academy will travel to Hebron Christian this week to face the undefeated Eagles.
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