September 22, 2013 1:08:26 AM
JACKSON -- Heritage Academy football coach Barrett Donahoe looked forward to seeing how his team would respond after its first loss of the season.
The response was what he wanted.
After a season-opening three-game winning streak was snapped with a loss to Jackson Academy, Heritage Academy returned to the win column with a 33-0 shutout of Hillcrest Christian School on Friday night in Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, District 1, Division II action.
"We played well considering the adverse weather conditions," Donahoe said. "It was a situation where we had some minor mistakes in the kicking game and stuff like that. They were caused by the weather. I know everybody dealt with weather issues, but it seemed like our situation was really bad."
Heritage Academy (4-1, 1-1 MAIS Class AAA, 1-0 Division II) built a 19-0 halftime lead thanks to a 16-yard run by Cody Mordecai, an interception return for touchdown by Mark Thatcher, and an 80-yard run by Parker Short.
"We only ran 16 offensive plays in the first half," Donahoe said. "It felt like a lot of clock ran off quickly last night. We had a goal-line stand there late in the first half. We got the stop and scored a touchdown right before the half. I thought it was really huge to see our response there in that sequence."
Thatcher opened the second half with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Short followed with a 35-yard touchdown run to close the scoring.
"We got a lot of second-team players in there on both offense and defense," Donahoe said. "It was a difficult night, but I thought for the first time in a couple of weeks our kids played loose and had fun on the football field."
Heritage Academy plays host to longtime rival Oak Hill Academy (3-2) in a non-district game Friday night.
n Victory Christian School 34, Ezekiel Academy 6: At Columbus, Anthony Sharp had 15 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to help push the Eagles to 4-1.
Sharp scored on runs of 23, 55, and 73 yards to power a ground attack that also featured Cody Bolton, who had 12 carries for 62 yards. Bolton scored on a 28-yard run.
Hunter Austin added a 1-yard scoring run. Austin paced the Eagles with 12 tackles and three interceptions. He also had one catch for 29 yards. Sharp had one catch for 8 yards. Those were the only completions for sophomore quarterback Reed Fulgham, who threw for two two-point conversions, one to Sharp and one to Austin.
Bo McCrary and Will Jones added 11 tackles apiece.
"We talked about starting real strong because of the weather," Victory Christian coach Chris Hamm said. "I thought we came out and did that. We started off with a couple of good possessions and did great job all the way around, despite the weather."
Victory Christian will play next week at New Life in Montgomery, Ala.
n Magnolia Heights 20, Starkville
Academy 8: At Senatobia, the Volunteers surrendered three second-quarter touchdowns in an MAIS Class AAA, District 1, Division II game.
"We had a couple of defensive breakdowns in the second quarter, and that really hurt our chances at winning the game," Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill said. "We played hard and competed in a real difficult situation with the weather. We just couldn't match them offensively."
The Volunteers (2-3, 1-2 MAIS Class AAA, 1-1 Division II) scored first on a safety on the first possession of the game.
The Chiefs (4-1, 1-1, 1-0) regrouped and put together three straight scoring drives in the second quarter. Running behind a mammoth offensive line, Brian Taylor (5-yard run), Will Smith (74-yard run), and Chandler Davis (54-yard run) followed with touchdowns on consecutive possessions.
Magnolia Heights finished with 277 total yards (all rushing) on 50 plays.
Starkville Academy had 105 yards and six first downs on 41 plays. For the Volunteers, Grant Wolfe scored on a 27-yard run late in the second quarter.
Neither team completed a pass. They attempted only five passes.
"We look forward to making some corrections in practice this week and to playing another game at home this upcoming week," Terrill said.
Starkville Academy will play host to Winston Academy (1-4) in a non-district game Friday night.
n Oak Hill Academy 26, Newton County Academy 20: At Decatur, the Raiders came up with another huge victory in the quest to return to the MAIS Class AA playoffs.
"We have seven ranked opponents and it is important to play that type of schedule," Oak Hill Academy coach Daniel Merchant said. "With power points and being graded based on your opponents, it is important to play good teams and to find a way to win those games."
Oak Hill Academy (3-2) battled back from an early first-quarter deficit to snag a second-straight win against Newton County Academy.
"We had a 26-14 lead and were driving the ball, when we had a fumble," Merchant said. "Newton picked it up and ran it back for a touchdown in the third quarter. That was a big momentum swing because we were fixing to go up three scores. The kids really responded to the adversity though and made sure the lead stood up."
John Willis Stevens, a junior wide receiver and safety, was injured and carried by ambulance to Rush Hospital in Meridian. X-rays on his back came back negative, and Stevens could have the opportunity to play Friday night in a road game at Heritage Academy (4-1, 1-1 in AAA).
"Fortunately, the X-rays came back negative and he can continue to play as long as he can withstand the pain," Merchant said. "Thank goodness it was nothing too serious because it was his brother, Jeb, who was air lifted after the North Delta playoff game last season."
The Raiders had 322 yards of total offense, including 177 rushing yards and 145 passing yards.
For Oak Hill Academy, Drew Riley had 17 rushes for 91 yards, including touchdown runs of 6 and 4 yards. Stevens had five rushes for a career-high 55 yards. Drake Riley had eight carries for 25 yards. A.J. Iseley had four carries for 13 yards. Joseph Caskey carried twice 9 yards and converted two different fourth-and-1 opportunities.
Riley Pierce was 4 of 8 for a career-high 145 yards. Curt Huffman had four catches for 145 yards. The duo hooked up for two touchdowns.
Chance Wilson and Caleb Roberson had fumble recoveries on defense.
"We are working our way through a very difficult stretch of games," Merchant said. "The best thing about this team is that they come out prepared and ready to play hard each week. We have to work on our blocking and tackling to become a complete team. However, we are making progress against some really great teams."
n Heidelberg Academy 40, Immanuel Christian School 12: At Heidelberg, the Rams fell down three touchdowns in the second quarter thanks to interception returns for touchdowns.
Immanuel Christian (2-3), Jay Jay Swanigan hit KC Cunningham for a 37-yard touchdown pass, as the Rams closed within 20-6 at halftime. In the third quarter, Cunningham scored on a 9-yard touchdown.
Heidelberg Academy (4-1) put the game away with a late third-quarter touchdown and early fourth-quarter score.
Immanuel Christian had 306 yards of total offense and 14 first downs. Swanigan rushed 12 times for 115 yards. Cunningham rushed six times for 26 yards, while Jaelin Bankhead rushed five times for 20 yards.
Swanigan was 9 of 27 for 154 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Bankhead led the Rams defensively with 10 total tackles. BJ Shirley and Turner Kilpatrick each added seven tackles.
Immanuel Christian will play Friday night at Greenville Christian in an MAIS Class A, District 2 game.
n Rebul Academy 26, Central Academy 6: At Learned, the Vikings dropped their third-straight game.
Central Academy (1-4) will play host to Calvary Christian on Friday night.
n French Camp 32, West Lowndes 6: At French Camp, the Panthers had a tough nigh offensively in a critical Class 1A, Region 3 game.
French Camp (1-4, 1-1 region) built a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to a two touchdown runs by Hagan Box -- from 1 and 2 yards out. Daniel Hughes also added a two-point conversion run.
West Lowndes (1-3, 0-2) answered early in the second half on a 21-yard touchdown run by Eric Harris. A junior, Harris has rushed for 400 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.
Box and his offensive mates got the offensive game back in gear in the second half. French Camp ran for 300 yards and salted the game away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
West Lowndes will play host to Ethel (1-3, 0-1) on Friday night for Homecoming.
n Itawamba AHS 44, Aberdeen 36: At Fulton, the Bulldogs saw a 24-7 second-quarter lead get away.
Aberdeen (2-3) still held a 36-28 lead entering the final quarter before watching as Itawamba AHS scored the final 16 points.
Aberdeen had 296 first-half yards but couldn't make the early offensive blitz stand up.
After forcing a fumble on game's first possession, the Bulldogs started the scoring on a 30-yard run by Jerrick Orr.
After an answer by Itawamba AHS (3-2), the Bulldogs seemed to gain complete control with a 60-yard jaunt by Orr and a 75-yard touchdown run by Sammie Burroughs less than two minutes later.
Josh Ewing followed with a 16-yard touchdown run for a 24-7 lead. However, the Bulldogs inability convert any of six two-point conversion tries loomed large in the end.
After Itawamba AHS closed within 24-21, Aberdeen answered with a 30-yard touchdown run by Tyreke Gates. Ewing later scored on a 66-yard run.
The Indians took the lead for good at 37-36 when Vijay Miller hit Tylon Ward for a 23-yard touchdown pass. A 5-yard run by Hunter White capped the scoring with less than two minutes remaining.
Aberdeen will play host to Corinth (4-1) on Friday night.
n Sebastopol 37, East Oktibbeha 0: At Crawford, the Titans slipped to 0-2 after a rain-plagued loss at home.
"We started off strong and had a couple of good drives," East Oktibbeha coach John Davis said. "After we got into the game, we had some injuries and couldn't sustain anything. Once we got down the scoreboard, we had a hard time coming back in the game."
East Oktibbeha drove the game's first possession into the red zone before turning the ball over on downs. Sebastopol (3-2, 2-0) answered with an 87-yard touchdown run by Colton Tharp.
The Bobcats then recovered a fumble on the game's next possession.
After lightning twice delayed the game, the Bobcats turned the game over to a bruising ground game as the rain continued.
Sebastopol stretched the lead to 21-0 on a pair of touchdowns by Cody Shaw.
The Bobcats stretched the lead on a run by Tharp, a blocked punt recovery for score, and a field goal.
"We have to work on our mental preparation," Davis said. "We have to become mentally focused and ready to compete for four quarters."
East Oktibbeha had 130 yards of total offense -- all on the ground. Destin Covington ran for a team-high 93 yards on 17 rushes. Justin Williams had nine tackles, while Ricky Armstead added seven.
East Oktibbeha visits Noxapater (3-2, 2-0) in region play Friday night.
n Noxapater 42, West Oktibbeha 0: At Maben, the Timberwolves dropped their second-straight Class 1A, Region 3-1A game to start the season.
West Oktibbeha hasn't scored in either game. The Timberwolves are working with some young players and a new coach. Weather issues and a dominating ground game by Noxapater didn't help matters.
Noxapater (3-2, 2-0) rushed for 305 yards. Von Woods scored a pair of early touchdowns. Tyrell Carter also scored twice, while Chris Johnson and Justin Robertson had the other scores, as the Tigers built a 35-0 halftime lead.
West Oktibbeha will visit French Camp Academy (1-4, 1-1) for another region game Friday night.
Our Prep Coverage
All fall sports coaches are reminded to report their game results to The Dispatch.
Please give us the final score, where the game was played, the team records, leading performers, the team's next game and any other notable information.
Since The Dispatch is an afternoon paper, we will try the next morning to track results of all games not called in to the newspaper. We will try to call at a reasonable hour and don't mean to disrupt any coach, teacher, or professional at work, but our goal is to recognize the performances of as many student-athletes as possible.
If you are a coach, scorekeeper or parent who reports information to us, please give us the best time and the best number to reach you.
If the result of a game isn't in The Dispatch, please work with us to encourage that coach to contact us so we can provide the best possible coverage.
If you have any questions, call sports editor Adam Minichino at 662-327-1297.
Prep Player of Week
Every Tuesday, The Dispatch will recognize a standout prep performer.
1. New Hope beats Leake Central to win Region 4-4A title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. No. 2 MSU women play for outright SEC championship COLLEGE SPORTS
3. New Hope's James signs with Itawamba C.C. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. MSU Notebook: Schaefer back to normal for No. 2 Bulldogs COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Columbus basketball squads win pair of region titles HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS