November 11, 2012 1:13:04 AM
By Ben PRICE
Special to The Dispatch
MACON -- Painful memories are the ones hardest to shake off.
Two seasons ago, Lafayette County ended the Noxubee County football season with a playoff defeat on Noxubee's home turf.
Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter's message to his team this week was to seek revenge for that loss and rid the team of that memory.
The Tigers did just that. Noxubee County pitched its fifth shutout of the season Friday night with a 14-0 win over Lafayette County in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoffs.
Noxubee County (13-0) will face Itawamba AHS (12-0) Friday night in Fulton with a berth in the North State finals on the line.
"It wasn't hard to get up for this team," Shorter said. "They came down here two years ago and beat us, on our own field. So this week at practice it was so easy to motivate these guys."
Message received, loud and clear.
In a game featuring the Class 4A state champions in three of the last four seasons, it was Noxubee County making sure a new champion will be crowned Dec. 1 in Jackson. Lafayette County (10-3) was attempting to win a third straight state championship.
The Tigers came into Friday night's matchup wanting to keep the ball and pound away with their physical running game while continuing to dominate defensively, and that's exactly what they did. It's not the flashiest game plan, but it worked exactly like Shorter and his coaching staff drew it up.
"(Darrell) Robinson's our workhorse. We came into this game wanting to control the clock," Shorter said. "We knew our defense was going to play well and they did. Robinson's just a heck of a football player and he carried us tonight."
Robinson finished the contest with 161 yards and a touchdown on 26 rushes, but his production didn't end there. He also completed a 16-yard pass to starting quarterback Deangelo Ballard, the only completion of the night for Noxubee County. Robinson even made his mark on special teams, returning two punts as well as the only Lafayette County kickoff.
While Robinson and his monstrous Tiger offensive line went to work on offense, Noxubee County's defense made sure to hold up its end of the deal.
The Tigers allowed a mere 168 yards of offense and seven first downs to the Commodores. Lafayette County did not penetrate the Noxubee County 30-yard line.
Leading the way for that brutish defense is senior linebacker Antonio Ryland.
"He (Shorter) talked to us all week about two years ago and how they came down here and embarrassed us on our own field. He coached us up all week and we went back and corrected the mistakes so we could execute," Ryland said. "I've got to take my hat off to Lafayette though. They're a good ball club."
Ryland combined with Dylan Bradley, Javancy Jones and the rest of the Tigers on the defensive masterpiece. In two playoff games, the Tigers have given up just six points total.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the stout Tiger's defense matched the offense this week by scoring a touchdown of their own. The Commodores were driving inside Noxubee County territory looking to tie the score when junior defensive back Antravion Robinson intercepted a pass inside his 20-yard line and took it the distance down the sideline.
After that, Lafayette County failed to put much of a scare into the Tigers, gaining just 55 yards in the final two quarters.
The Tigers were able to force a turnover on downs in the final minutes and then gained a first down in order to kneel out the clock just yards away from another score.
With the big win under their belt and a memory from two years ago finally vanquished, Bradley said he and his teammates aren't taking time to relish the victory. After all, Itawamba AHS is waiting.
"We start looking forward to next week right now," Bradley said.
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