Hinds hauls in sweet sixth state title

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

Sedric Fuller (28), Trey Vardiman, right, ex-Vicksburg High star Jason Myers, directly behind Fuller holding up helmet, and other Eagles celebrate their 27-17 win over Southwest in the Magnolia Bowl. It was the Eagles sixth state championship since 1988. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

RAYMOND Hinds coach Gene Murphy did not get the customary ice-water shower after the Eagles’ state championship win Saturday.

Mother Nature took care of that.

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On a dreary, cold, rain-soaked afternoon, the Eagles (11-1) drowned Southwest for the second time in three weeks, 27-17, to earn their sixth state championship since 1988 in the second annual Magnolia Bowl.

“That was a great thing,” Murphy said after his team doused assistant coach Mike Smith instead. “They got me good last time.”

With temperatures hovering near the freezing mark all afternoon, a steady rain falling and about 200 loyal fans in the stands, Hinds splattered its way to 133 yards rushing and scored all four of its touchdowns on running plays.

Former Vicksburg High standout Thomas McKnight, who had 121 yards on 30 carries, scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Brad Banks added a 2-yard scoring run.

“It’s tradition here,” University of Miami signee Andrew Williams said. “From the players that started here until now. We won it for them.”

Williams, a stalwart on a defense full of potential future stars, played on last year’s team that lost to Northwest in the state championship game. Northwest was ineligible this year for starting practice too early.

The defense, as it has done all season, dominated. Southwest managed just 9 total yards in the first half and didn’t get a first down until midway through the third quarter.

“We’ve been trying to get a state championship back here for two years,” ex-Vicksburg High star Jason Myers said. “We lost it last year, but worked hard and today, we wanted it more than they did.”

Southwest, which placed second in the South Division behind Hinds, was trying for its first state title since 1958.

The run-oriented Bears (9-3) managed a paltry 81 yards on 52 carries. A 5-yard TD run by Jacob Prim in the second quarter pulled the visitors to 14-7, but McKnight countered four minutes later with his second score to up the lead to 20-7 at the half.

“They made a few more plays than we did today,” Southwest coach Kenny Edenfield said. “We had a chance, but they have a great football team. They beat us twice this year and deserve to be champions.”

The Bears, pinned inside their 20-yard line for most of the first half, mounted little offense. After a punt on the first possession of the game, the Eagles drove to the Southwest 15, but Banks was intercepted at the 8-yard line.

Four plays later, the Bears tried a fake punt which went for no gain and on the second Hinds’ offensive play, Banks broke around end for a 15-yard scoring run with 8:37 left in the opening quarter.

Hinds’ defense held again and a bad snap on a punt attempt was recovered at the Southwest 7-yard line. McKnight scored his first TD two plays later, a 4-yard run.

“As much as we worked on the running game, through midseason, it was nonexistent,” Murphy said. “Not until the eighth game did we start to show signs of a running game.”

Midway through the third quarter, Brad Boyd kicked a field goal to get the Bears to within 10. Three minutes later, Hinds’ Trey Crum kicked a 35-yarder, but the coaching staff elected to take the points off the board after a roughing-the-kicker call gave Hinds a first down at the 9.

But a botched snap on a 22-yard attempt gave the Bears possession. Four plays later, Chris Dixon blocked a punt at the Southwest 3 and McKnight scored on the next play for a 27-10 lead.

“We had a good chance until that blocked punt. That killed us,” Edenfield said.

Southwest added a late touchdown on a 1-yard run by quarterback Andreco Hines late in the fourth quarter.

“I’m just so proud of these sophomores,” Murphy said. “You got a group of guys that have won more than 20 games in two seasons and played for two state championships. I just can’t say enough about their impact.”