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Third-quarter burst pushes Shannon past New Hope


By Don Rowe, Special to The Dispatch



SHANNON -- An offensive effort that produces 34 points and racks up almost 400 yards rushing and passing should translate into a win, but that wasn't the case Friday evening as the New Hope High School football team dropped a 46-34 decision to Shannon.  


Coming off a tough loss to Noxubee County last week, Shannon ran only three more offensive plays than New Hope, 60-57, but 19 of those went for 10 yards or more and accounted for 390 of the Red Raiders'456 total yards -- an average of 20.5 per play. 


"Poor tackling on our part and Shannon's ability to come up with the big play hurt us throughout the game," New Hope coach Kris Pickle said. "We didn't step up defensively and they whipped us offensively all night. 


"I saw a lot of good things, but we made a ton of mistakes, which cost us dearly, and those are the things we'll have to correct going forward." 


Shannon coach Darryl Carter abhors high-scoring games, but he is willing to take a win under any circumstances. 


"I won't turn down a win," said Carter, who played Arena League Football, which traditionally features high-scoring games. 


Taking its cue from the home team, New Hope also took advantage of big plays to take a 28-22 halftime lead. But Shannon scored three touchdowns and three two-point conversions on all three of its possessions in the third quarter turn a six-point deficit into a 46-28 advantage with a little more than minute left in the quarter. 


"That stretch there in the third quarter was the difference," Pickle said. "They're a good football team, no doubt, and with us having to play with three starters out with injuries, it was tough for us to play catch-up. That's not to be taken as an excuse, however, because all teams have injuries. But then, it becomes important for others to step up to take their place." 


Trailing 28-22 after New Hope quarterback Kyree Fields and Jeremy Tate hooked up on a 24-yard touchdown pass and Daniel Bradley added the extra point seven seconds before the half, the Red Raiders came out with a vengeance in the third period. New Hope fumbled the opening kickoff and Shannon's Alex Ward scooped up the loose ball at the 35-yard line and returned it to the Trojans' 17. Erran Curry, who accounted for all 17 yards on the short drive, bulled his way into the end zone from 3 yards out and added the two-point conversion to help the Red Raiders take a 30-28 lead. 


New Hope quickly worked its way into Shannon territory on its next possession, but a bad pitch resulted in a bobble and a 9-yard loss on a third-and-3 from the Shannon 43 to bring on the punting team. 


Shannon took over on its 22 and wasted little time expanding its lead to 38-28 when quarterback Jordan Gilleylen found wide receiver Pashon Cooper on a 78-yard pass-run play on first down and Alex Ward added the two-point conversion. 


Once again, New Hope marched into Shannon territory on its ensuing possession, but Fields was sacked for a 14-yard loss near midfield and the Trojans were forced to punt ball. 


Shannon then mounted a 10-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 10-yard scoring toss from Gilleylen to tight end Marterious Johnson and a two-point conversion run by Dejajuan Lockridge made it 46-28. 


A 40-yard Gilleylen pass to Ellis Fields on a third-and-12 from the Shannon 41 and a half-the-distance penalty for pass interference kept the drive alive. 


"I got on their butts pretty good at halftime, and it got the desired results," Carter said. 


Two plays later, Fields left the game with an AC sprain (shoulder) and sophomore Ryan Burt took over at quarterback. After a 9-yard sack and an intentional grounding call on his first series, Burt completed two short passes and then connected with Tate, who juked two defenders and sprinted 67 yards down the Trojans' sideline for a touchdown. Burt's two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, though, with 7 minutes, 44 seconds remaining. 


Shannon took an 8-0 lead on its initial possession thanks to a 9-yard run by Sentwali "Stanka" White and a two-point conversion by Jerry Marion, but a 3-yard keeper by Fields and an extra point kick by Bradley cut the deficit to 8-7. 


A 36-yard kickoff return by Curry gave the Red Raiders a first down on the New Hope 35 and Shannon tacked on its second touchdown five plays later on a 7-yard scoring strike from Gilleylen to Augusta Cox. A two-point conversion run fell short to leave Shannon with a 14-7 cushion with 5:09 to play in the first quarter. 


Neither team scored in its next possession, but then the game quickly turned into an Arena League-like offensive explosion, as New Hope tied it 14 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Tate on the first play of the second quarter and a Bradley kick. 


The tie lasted 15 seconds, as Marion bobbled the ensuing kickoff at his 5, but recovered it and took it 95 yards for a touchdown. Gilleylen then hit Erick Rogers for the two-point conversion and a 22-14 Shannon lead. 


New Hope responded with a 28-yard kickoff return by Tate, followed by a four-play, 58-yard drive capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Jaylan Mays and a Bradley kick to make it 22-21. 


The Red Raiders then took almost seven minutes off the clock thanks to a 13-play march that ended on a fourth-and-5 interception by Fred Brownlee at the 3-yard line. His 25-yard return preceded a nine-play, 72-yard drive topped off by a Fields pass to Tate for a touchdown and a Bradley kick to give the Trojans a 28-22 halftime lead. 


Shannon, which didn't have a kicker available, was 5-for-6 on two-point conversions. It also was without defensive coordinator Boris Ivy, who missed the game as his wife went into labor. 


For New Hope, Tate had seven catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns to lead both teams in receiving, while punter Ashton Husband was the leading ground-gainer for either team with 66 yards on only one carry. 


"That play was one of the craziest plays I've seen," Carter said. 


On the play, New Hope faced a fourth-and-20 from its 31 and Husband came on to punt the ball away. With the Shannon players downfield to set up a wall for a return, Husband shanked the kick and the ball fell to the ground a yard behind the line of scrimmage at the Trojans' 30, where it laid untouched for several seconds. 


With his coaches screaming for him to pick it up, Husband did so and scampered all the way to the Shannon 4 to set up the Trojans' first touchdown. After the officials conferred with each other, the play stood because the ball never passed the line of scrimmage, the only time the kicking team is allowed to advance the ball. 


"Beats anything I've ever seen," said one sideline observer. "But one thing for sure, his run with the ball kept that kicker from receiving a severe butt-chewing (or words to that effect)."



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