Gators stay alive in hunt for playoffs with big win

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 23, 2000

JACKSON With their season on the line Friday night, the Vicksburg Gators served notice that they aren’t dead in the Region 2-5A playoff chase yet with an impressive 42-20 win over Callaway.

The Gators (6-3, 2-3 Region 2-5A) dominated the Chargers (5-4, 2-3) on both sides of the ball and led 42-6 in the fourth quarter before Callaway scored a pair of meaningless touchdowns.

Nine VHS backs combined for 242 rushing yards and four different backs ran for touchdowns. D’Eldrick Taylor spearheaded the defense with seven tackles, two fumble recoveries including one in the end zone for a touchdown and a sack.

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Callaway’s Bobby April ran for 89 yards and two TDs, and John Arterberry was 7-for-11 passing for 137 yards, most of it in the fourth quarter.

“We came out focused, and I could tell when we left home that we were ready to play,” said VHS coach James Knox, whose team moved into a tie for the fourth and final Region 2-5A playoff berth. “The defense and the offense played well, and that’s what it’s going to take these last two games.”

Callaway punted on its first possession, and the Gators wasted no time taking the lead. VHS marched 47 yards in five plays, scoring on J.J. Brown’s 10-yard run. Brown then caught a two-point conversion pass for an 8-0 lead.

Callaway cut it to 8-6 with a 10-play, 72-yard drive capped by April’s 9-yard run. The drive was kept alive by three Gator penalties, including a roughing-the-kicker call on a Callaway punt.

The Chargers fumbled eight times, losing three, and committed 67 yards in penalties.

“Defensively, we never got in step, and offensively we made too many mistakes,” Callaway coach Gerry Anderson said.

Reginald Wheatley scored on a 3-yard run on VHS’ next possession, then Callaway gave VHS a freebie.

A bad snap sailed over the head of Charger punter Tim Boyd, and Taylor who was supposed to have been suspended for three quarters because of a fight in the Clinton game last week, but was reinstated Friday morning chased it down in the end zone for the touchdown with 3:52 to play in the half.

“That was one of the key plays, but this night was filled with a lot of key plays,” said VHS’ Terry Cooper, whose 4-yard TD run made it 28-6 in the third. He also had a sack and a fumble recovery on defense. “We made big plays, and we got the tide going our way, and everything fell into place.”

Antonio Rainey ended any hope of a Callaway comeback with a 4-yard bootleg touchdown to make it 35-6 with 4:39 left in the third. The run was set up by a bad punt and a 24-yard run by Adam Hodnett to the Charger 1.