Gators stay on ground, ground Gentry

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 30, 2000

J.J. Brown of Vicksburg hurdles Gentry kicker/quarterback Michael Spurlock at midfield as he returns a kickoff 65 yards to the Rams’ 21-yard line. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

J.J. Brown and Terry Cooper combined for 386 of Vicksburg High’s 475 rushing yards as the Gators scored 50 points, but it was the VHS defense that stole the show Friday night.

The Gators (7-3, 3-3 Region 2-5A) kept it on the ground and grounded Michael Spurlock and Gentry, 50-29, to keep their playoff hopes alive going into next week’s showdown with crosstown rival Warren Central.

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“This will be a big motivator for us,” said VHS defensive coordinator Robert Erves, who was sopping wet and shivering after getting doused with ice water. “This should help us.”

The Gators held the Rams (1-9, 0-6), who are averaging 33 points per game, to just two touchdowns until the final 1:26.

The teams combined for 919 total yards.

The Gators, who had a total of 487 yards, went to the air just four times, completing two for 12 yards.

Cooper, who had three touchdowns, was looking ahead to next week too. The Vikings lead the series, 18-1.

“It’s on,” he said. “We want to make history.”

The senior made history for himself Friday night, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the first time.

He went over that mark before halftime, finishing with 156 yards on 14 carries, including scoring runs of 1, 3 and 12 yards.

Brown went for a whopping 230 yards on 15 carries. He set the tone early, ripping off scrambles of 38 and 28 yards the first two times he carried the ball.

“You’ve got to give it to our line,” Cooper said. “They blocked and the quarterback was blocking on every play. We were pumping each other up.”

Working out of the shotgun with the Rams’ no-huddle offense, Spurlock threw for three touchdowns and 378 yards, but completed just 18 of 52 passes. A number of those were on target but dropped.

“We just didn’t connect tonight,” Spurlock said. “I threw some of them too high.”

Spurlock said that he wasn’t frustrated by all of the drops.

“I put more pressure on myself than I put on my receivers,” he said.

Spurlock threw touchdown passes of 52 and 28 yards to Marcus Stubbs in the final 18 seconds of the first quarter to make it 14-14, but it was all Gators after that.

“This one of the best games for our offense and defense all year,” VHS head coach James Knox said. “I hope it carries over to next week.”

VHS quarterback Antonio Rainey scored first for the Gators, going 4 yards on a bootleg to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive.

After a defensive stop, Cooper went 34 yards to set up his own 1-yard plunge to make it 14-0 with 4:35 left in the first.

After Spurlock’s first scoring pass, the Gators fumbled the kickoff. Two plays later, he tied it up.

Brown returned the next kickoff to the Gentry 21 and one play after a penalty negated Rainey’s 14-yard strike to Cooper in the end zone, Gentry’s Tamarcus Brown went high for an interception.

The Gators’ defense held again and it took Cooper four plays to score again, this time a 3-yarder right after he fought his way for a 46-yard gain on a reverse.

In the third quarter, Reginald Wheatley scored on a 5-yard run and Adam Hodnett added an 11-yarder.

Jermaine Wright’s high-flying interception set up Brown’s 1-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter and Cooper added a 12-yarder on a reverse to cap an eight-play, 79-yard drive with 4:05 remaining.

Justin Henry passed to Brown for a two-point conversion after a bad snap.

Victor Parker and Scott Zingery both kicked earlier PATs.

Spurlock threw a 78-yard strike to Brian Wyms on third-and-44 with 1:26 left.

A fumbled snap by VHS set up Derrick Reed’s 3-yard score with 48 seconds left.

Spurlock, who kicked the first three extra points, hit Brown for the two-pointer.

For VHS, David Heard had an interception and a pass breakup in the end zone and D’Eldrick Taylor had two sacks.

Putting pressure on Spurlock was the key to the defense’s performance, Erves said.

“Nobody had really pressured him,” Erves said.

“We attacked at all ends and it paid off.”

Gentry coach Rickey Taylor said it was his team’s poor execution, not the Gators’ defense, that kept the Rams off the board most of the game.

“We were just flat, and that’s out of character,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if it’s just the guys giving up or what.”