October 9, 2010 11:42:00 PM
BATESVILLE -- Qyen Griffin returned the opening kickoff for an 81-yard touchdown Friday night to lead the top-ranked and Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A defending state champion South Panola High School football team to a 44-0 victory against Columbus.
Griffin had 117 rushing yards and a 9-yard touchdown on 14 carries for South Panola (7-0, 3-0 Class 6A, Region 1), which won its 19th game in a row.
Columbus High coach Tony Stanford said the kickoff didn''t deflate his kids. Instead, he said they came back and played the state''s top team tough the entire night.
"We played probably as good as we have played all year," Stanford said. "They have a good ballclub. I am as proud of our kids as I have been of any ballclub. They didn''t quit and played hard all night.
"We made a few mistakes that hurt us in early, and hurt us bad. We gave up 23 points in probably the first quarter and a half that got it out of hand."
Lee Self was 8 of 14 for 121 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 40 and 22 yards to Nickolas Brassell (five catches, 92 yards).
Columbus (2-5, 0-3) will turn its attention to its homecoming game against DeSoto Central. The Falcons, who have lost four games in a row, have Horn Lake, Olive Branch, and Starkville remaining on the region schedule and have work to do if they want to be one of the four playoff teams from the region.
"We probably should have won the first one of that four weeks," Stanford said. "It is tough to get them motivated after four weeks because they are down, but we''re going to go back and work hard because we have a chance to win some ballgames the last four weeks and we''ll see what happens."
Damian Baker had 15 carries for 87 yards. He also caught three passes for 55 yards. Cedrick Jackson was 14 of 29 for 171 yards. He threw two interceptions.
Tim Hudgins led the way with six tackles, including one for a loss. Quan Latham had three solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and an interception.
n Jackson Academy 46, Heritage Academy 7: At Jackson, The Raiders (7-1), the No. 2 team in Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, built a 32-0 halftime lead en route to their second win in a row.
Aaron Studdard scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to help the Patriots (3-5) avoid the shutout. The loss was the fourth in a row for Heritage Academy, which hasn''t scored more than seven points in any of those games.
Jackson Academy scored on runs of 6 yards by Christopher Jew, 1 yard by Michael Martin, 5 yards by Benton Green, a 32-yard interception return by Jacob Berry, a 32-yard pass from Ross Pickering to Craig Edgecombe, and on a 68-yard run by Chris Young.
n West Lowndes 22, J.Z. George 20: At North Carrollton, Antonio Wilson rushed for three touchdowns to help the Panthers improve to 5-2 and 2-0 in MHSAA Class 2A, Region 2.
Wilson scored on runs of 57, 5, and 8 yards and finished with 238 yards on 20 carries. Brandon Clark also had two returns for 48 yards.
Wilson also had two two-point conversion runs. His third touchdown game West Lowndes a 22-14 lead. J.Z. George (3-5, 1-1) scored with about three minutes left in the game and attempted a two-point conversion. But the snap went over the head of the quarterback about 25 yards.
J.Z. George then tried an onside kick that went backward. West Lowndes then ran out the clock.
Trevor Stowers led the defense with six solo tackles and five assisted stops. Fredrico Moody had five solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and two sacks, Demarcus Hill had seven solo tackles and one assisted tackle, and Jalen Douglas had five solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and one sack.
n Houston 24, Caledonia 17, OT: At Houston, Charles Heard''s 10-yard run in overtime lifted the Hilltoppers past the Confederates in a key MHSAA Class 4A, Region 4 matchup.
Leading 17-14, Caledonia (1-7, 1-1) had several opportunities to put the game in the fourth quarter but penalties did the Confederates in. With 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining, Caledonia earned a first down off a long run that was brought back by a holding cal. Two plays later, the Confederates moved for another first down that likely would have allowed them to run the clock out, but a penalty erased that gain and forced the team to punt.
One play later, Houston (2-6, 1-1) used a big gain to move to the Caledonia 30. The Confederates stopped the Hilltoppers, but a pass interference call gave Houston a first-and-goal from the 9. The Hilltoppers then kicked the tying field goal with two seconds left.
Caledonia had two final chances. The Confederates ran the ensuing kickoff back, only to see a block in the back penalty wipe it out. The Confederates were given one more play from the 35- or the 36-yard line, but Kevin Kugel was short on a 53-yard field goal.
Caledonia coach Ricky Kendrick said he wasn''t sure why the flag was thrown on the kick return because he didn''t see a Caledonia player in the vicinity.
In overtime, Houston stopped Caledonia on three plays to give Kugel a chance at a field goal. Kugel went down on his attempt, which he missed, but no flag was called. Kendrick said it appears Kugel could have suffered a knee injury.
Houston capitalized on the next play on Heard''s run. The Hilltoppers kicked the extra point in case there is a points situation in divisional matchups.
"We didn''t play well in the first half. We were very flat," Kendrick said. "Coming off the Amory thing (a 17-14 win last week that snapped a 25-game losing streak) we really didn''t do a lot in the first half. We were able to move the ball some, but our defense struggled with their running game. The kids were just flat. There was no emotion and excitement at being in that situation (to improve the team''s chances at a playoff spot). We need to seize that moment and that opportunity.
"The kids responded at halftime and came back and took the lead. We had the game won three or four times but we didn''t get it put away."
Onterrio Lowery scored Caledonia''s first touchdown. Kugel kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 14-9 before Ben Marchbanks'' touchdown run helped give the Confederates the lead. Richard Keene connected with Cole Carter on the two-point conversion.
n Heidelberg Academy 46, Immanuel Christian 8: At Heidelberg, The Rebels (6-2) built a 34-8 halftime lead en route to their non-district victory.
Michael Tate''s 58 yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the only score for the Rams (3-5), who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Ross Moore had the two-point conversion run.
Tate led the team with 15 carries for 94 yards. The Rams 54 rushing yards as a team. Tate completed an 18-yard pass to Wesley Tate in the third quarter. That was the only first down the Rams had all night. They had two others by penalty.
Tate and James Wriley each had 10 tackles, while Dustin White and Zack Kimbrell each had eight tackles and Josh Davidson and Norris Harris each had five. Jacob Rhoades and Christopher Randazzo each had fumble recoveries.
Immanuel Christian will play host to Hebron Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.
1. Starkville Academy beats Heritage Academy to reach title game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU baseball team focused on moving forward COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU baseball team bounces back, beats Jackson State COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Ranked tests await MSU softball team COLLEGE SPORTS