Rainey-led Gators hold off Greenwood
Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000
Vicksburg High’s David Heard intercepts a pass in front of Greenwood’s James Bell in the first quarter. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)
Vicksburg needed all of Antonio Rainey’s heroics Friday night in a hard-fought 21-20 win over Greenwood in the Red Carpet Bowl Classic.
Rainey completed 7 of 9 passes for 162 yards, threw a touchdown and ran for the game-winner, a 16-yarder.
“I needed to keep my mind clear and make good decisions,” said Rainey, a senior. “The whole team worked together.”
Rainey’s last touchdown, with 1:11 left in the fourth, gave the Gators a 21-12 lead, but Greenwood stormed back to score on a Darrell Sprolles 1-yard run. It was Sprolles’ third touchdown of the game.
With just four seconds left, Vicksburg recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
“We did not capitalize on our opportunities,” Greenwood coach Charles Brady said. “We were taking what the defense was giving us, we just couldn’t get in the end zone enough.”
The Bulldogs manhandled the Vicksburg defense for a gaudy 383 yards rushing, but were held without a score three times inside the Gators’ 25.
“We have to build on this and continue to get better,” Vicksburg coach James Knox said. “One step at a time.”
Sprolles rushed for 57 yards, but Vernardus Cooper lit up the defense with 153 yards on 13 carries. Sylvester Taylor had 109 yards on four carries.
Sprolles’ three fourth-quarter touchdowns brought Greenwood back from a 14-0 deficit at the end of the third.
After both teams went into the locker room scoreless, J.J. Brown started the scoring on a 25-yard pass from Rainey. Brown, who had 84 yards rushing and 63 receiving, gave the Gators a 14-0 lead on a 26-yard run. Victor Parker was true on both extra points.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Henry started the Gators’ first series in the second half after Greenwood had pulled to within 14-6 on a Sprolles’ 5-yard run.
After a punt, Greenwood drove 66 yards in four plays in less than two minutes to score again. The two-point run failed keeping Vicksburg’s lead at 14-12.
The Gators drove the field on their next possession, with Rainey appearing to close out the game. His quarterback keeper off a fake was good from 16 yards with 1:11 left in the game.
“After I faked, I looked for my blocker, Charles Wilson, who was pulling,” Rainey said. “After I saw him make the block, all I could see was open field.”
Greenwood again drove the length of the field and scored its final tally on a 1-yard run by Sprolles. Markas Watkins converted the 2-point try.
In addition to Brown’s 84 yards, Terry Cooper had 37 yards and Phelan Gray had 54 on 10 carries. Quinton Miles and Cooper each had two receptions, as well.
Steven Caldwell had 11 tackles, while defensive back David Heard had 10 tackles and an interception.
“This was two teams going up and down the field tonight and one team had more points,” Brady said. “I’m not taking anything away from our guys. They played hard.”