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Defense does trick for Noxubee County


By James Bailey, Special to the Dispatch



MACON -- The Noxubee County High School football team''s aggressive defensive play and punishing running game fueled a 37-0 win against Lexington''s J.J. McClain on Friday in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A first-round playoff game. 


Less than two minutes into the contest, the Tigers'' defense backed up McClain inside its 10-yard line. On third-and-long, Noxubee County sophomore linebacker Javoris Glenn stepped in front of quarterback Kareem Spann''s pass and scored easily from 5 yards. 


Kamal Chamberlain kicked his first of five extra points to give the Tigers (11-1) led 7-0 with 10 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter. 


"Our defense played aggressive tonight," Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter said. "We teach this in practice. We''re not a big team, so we rely on quickness. I''m pleased we could put pressure on McClain all night." 


On the next three first-quarter possessions, McClain went three and out without the benefit of good field position. With only a few seconds remaining in the first quarter, defensive lineman Dylan dropped Mustangs'' quarterback Spann on his 4 to end the quarter and to force the team''s third punt of the game. 


Noxubee County''s Ladarrell Hunt received the short punt and returned it 45 yards for an apparent touchdown. A block-in-the-back penalty against the Tigers nullified the score and Noxubee County took over on the McClain 45. 


A 21-yard pass from quarterback Deangelo Ballard to Darrell Robinson set up Robinson''s 6-yard burst up the middle for Noxubee County''s second touchdown. 


The Tigers exploded for 21 additional points in the second quarter. Hunt scored on a 1-yard plunge up the middle, Ballard scampered 18 yards for a touchdown, and with only 47 seconds remaining until halftime, Ballard found wide receiver Janardreon Jones open along the sidelines for six points to make it 35-0 at halftime. 


The Tigers didn''t allow a serious drive into their territory in the first half and only once during the entire game. 


Jacoby Harris, Jeremy Hunt, and Javancy Jones led the defense with five solo tackles each. Jones also had one quarterback sack and one fumble recovery. 


Noxubee County''s defense kept McClain in negative numbers on the ground, as Spann (4 of 16, 37 yards, one interception) was dropped for -54 yards. 


Ballard was 9 of 14 for 142 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 14 yards and one touchdown. Jones, returning from an injury, led the Tigers in receiving with three catches for 77 yards and one touchdown. 


"It was great to get a touchdown catch tonight but even better we won," Jones said. "McClain''s defensive backs were playing off us and we were able to catch the ball on them. It feels great to be in the playoffs and to go forward." 


Hunt led Noxubee County in rushing with 34 yards on four attempts and one touchdown. 


"Our offense made some big plays," Shorter said. "It was a great team effort." 


Noxubee County will play host to Center Hill, which defeated Itawamba Agricultural, on Friday.



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