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Eagles nip Jones, eye Bears

Matt Walker of Hinds gets tackled by Jones linebacker Lester Magee after making a catch in the first half of the Eagles’ 19-13 South Division win. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

RAYMOND Trey Crum’s left leg and an impressive Hinds defense has the Eagles on the brink of their 10th outright South Division championship.

Crum kicked four field goals and the Eagles’ defense stopped Jones inside the 30-yard line late in the fourth quarter to preserve a 19-13 win at Joe Renfroe Stadium.

“We had no business being on the field with Hinds,” said Jones coach Parker Dykes, an ex-Hinds coach. “I give a lot of credit to our guys for fighting hard all night long. We didn’t win, but I have never been prouder of a bunch of guys.”

The Eagles will play their final regular-season game Thursday at Southwest, which comes into the game with just one loss. With a win, Hinds will host a first-round playoff game and have the upper hand in hosting the state championship.

“It’s going to be a showdown,” ex-Warren Central punter John Weaver said of the Southwest game. “We win that one and we are South champs again, just like last year.”

The Eagles (8-1, 5-0 South) earned at least a share of the league title and a guaranteed playoff berth, but it didn’t come easy.

A pair of Will Parker field goals gave Jones (3-6, 1-4) a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter. With 6:33 left in the half, Vernon Washington returned a Brad Banks’ fumble 52 yards for the lone Bobcats’ touchdown and a stunning 13-3 lead.

“They came out fighting, but we kept our heads,” said Banks, a Central Florida signee who threw for 299 yards and a 36-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Stovall. “We shot ourselves in the foot a lot, but hopefully we’ll get things worked out by next week.”

Banks led the Eagles on a 54-yard drive with time running out in the half. Stovall, who led all receivers with 126 yards on seven catches, and Oklahoma State transfer John Lewis, who had 106 yards on eight catches, each hauled in a pair of passes on the drive.

Banks, however, was sacked on the 27-yard line with 14 seconds left in the half. With no timeouts, Hinds rushed the field goal team onto the field. With one second on the clock, Crum connected on his second field goal, a 44-yarder, to pull Hinds to within a touchdown.

“We have drilled them guys getting on the field for that situation,” Hinds coach Gene Murphy said. “They took off running, lined up and kicked it. They did a very good job.”

The Eagles tied the game on Stovall’s TD catch midway through the third quarter. Crum’s third field goal, a 28-yarder with 2:39 left in the game, gave the Eagles their first lead, 16-13.

Six minutes into the fourth quarter Crum connected on a 33-yarder for a six-point lead.

The Hinds defense needed one more stand late to save the victory, however. Ex-Vicksburg High standout running back, Thomas McKnight, who had 133 yards on 24 carries, was stripped at the Eagles’ 32-yard line and Jones recovered. Hinds held Jones’ backup quarterback Kevin Huff to no yards on four plays to end the game.

Huff played all of the second half after Fabian Walker, a Florida State signee who played in the Seminoles’ spring game, left with bruised ribs. The Bobcats racked up 208 yards of offense, but could not find the end zone.

“(Our) offense struggled here and there and we knew we had to come through,” said Hinds standout Andrew Williams, a University of Miami signee. “Regardless of what the offense does, we will back them up at all times. We have the number one defense in the state and we had to show them why we were number one.”