August 28, 2010 11:09:00 PM
CRAWFORD -- A traditional rivalry turned ugly Friday night as the West Lowndes High School football team topped East Oktibbeha 20-12 on the Titans'' home field, but it wasn''t due to a lack of sportsmanship.
The teams totaled 21 penalties in a stop-and-go game punctuated by offsides calls, delays, and illegal procedures, as both teams continue to shake off the summer rust.
A penalty blew a chance for West Lowndes (1-1) to jump out to a big lead in the first quarter following a 79-yard touchdown run by junior standout Antonio Wilson. Leading 6-0 after one minute thanks to Wilson, Panthers junior quarterback Gerald Sanders lobbed a deep pass that Brandon Clark caught in the end zone, but an offensive pass interference penalty negated the score.
"I told them not to be as obvious as what was going on down there on the touchdown," West Lowndes High coach Bobby Berry. "But if you''re running long and have to give a little nudge and try to get the upper hand, that''s only being an athlete. If the official calls it, hey, I had no complaints."
Berry wasn''t as forgiving on other mistakes. East Oktibbeha first-year coach Randy Brooks also was unforgiving.
"Lapses in judgment. These are fundamental things," Brooks said. "I''ve ran them and made them do pushups when they''ve got two guys in motion (in practice), yet we still got two guys in motion in a game. We can''t have that if we''re going to play in our league."
When the referees weren''t dictating the pace of the game, it was all West Lowndes (1-1). Wilson snapped Friday, racking up 188 rushing yards on 28 carries and catching four balls for another 45 yards, most of which were yards-after-the-catch on screen passes. Thirty yards worth of kick returns gave the junior tailback 263 all-purpose yards.
"Antonio did a tremendous job for us," Berry said. "He made some cuts one way or another he shouldn''t have made, but that comes from being young. This is just his second year being a tailback."
Sanders went 7 of 16 for 107 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown strike to Jamarquis Humphries in the second quarter. He snuck a rushing touchdown in from the Titans'' 1-yard-line late in the fourth quarter.
A safety in the second quarter courtesy of Trevor Stowers showcased the versatility of the Panthers'' defense. West Lowndes showed repeatedly it could pressure the quarterback while limiting the Titans (0-2) to 115 yards rushing.
East Oktibbeha''s two scores came on long bombs when receivers broke free from coverage. Quarterback Chris Humphries also served up two interceptions, one just as the Titans were poised to take the lead from West Lowndes'' 6-yard-line early in the fourth quarter.
Brooks said his team lacks the killer instinct it needs to finish the job.
"It''s a lack of desire on our kids'' part," Brooks said. "They''ll take a play off and on that play someone will come from the backside and tackle our quarterback."
One bright spot for the Titans was the play of senior defensive tackle Monte Horsley, who was a regular presence in the Panthers'' backfield with multiple tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"He can have double-digit tackles," Brooks said. "Last week (in a loss to Montgomery County) he had 11 tackles and three sacks. He can put those type of games together."
Horsley will get another chance Friday when East Oktibbeha plays host to West Oktibbeha, the team that beat West Oktibbeha in Week 1. West Lowndes will play host to Caledonia on Friday.