Gators catch second straight passing league title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2001

[07/11/01] JACKSON One of this season’s most lethal offensive combinations put its stamp on the Jackson Passing league title on Tuesday.

Vicksburg High quarterback Justin Henry tossed 10 touchdowns eight to senior J.J. Brown as the Gators won their second league title in three years.

“It took us some time to get into the flow,” offensive coordinator Jackie Williamson said. “In the second game, we were much better because we were in the flow by then.”

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Henry led the Gators, the regular season league champions, to wins over Lanier (21-12) and Canton (28-0) in the semifinals, then won a grueling game over Provine 26-20 in double overtime.

“That definitely helped our confidence, beating Provine in their own backyard,” said Henry, whose team played behind Hughes Field, across the street from Provine High.

Brown, a speedy running back and wide receiver, hauled in two touchdowns in the first game and three each in the semifinals and finals.

But it was the Gators’ defense that lifted Vicksburg to the championship.

In the final game, the Gators (14-2) and Rams went into overtime tied at 13. Provine scored on its first possession and got the extra-point conversion.

Vicksburg scored on its possession from the 10-yard line on a TD pass to Brown. Phelon Gray, who had two conversions, tied the game at 20.

The Gators scored on the first play of double overtime for a 26-20 lead. Jermaine Wright tipped a pass on the third and final down to seal the championship.

“I am so proud of our defense,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be nice for us on offense, with our defense playing so well, to be freer. We’ll be able to do some things that maybe we couldn’t do last year.”

Walter Warfield had a touchdown and a conversion and Reginald Wheatley had a pair of conversions.

D’Eldrick Taylor and David Heard each had a pair of interceptions and Justin Randle had a pick.

The Gators struggled in the opener, falling behind to Lanier 12-0. Vicksburg was awarded an unusual double-bye through the first round and were sitting on the sidelines for more than an hour before taking the field.

After a Taylor interception to pull VHS to within 12-2 interceptions are worth two points and extra points one Brown hauled in a 10-yarder. Warfield’s 7-yard touchdown gave the Gators a 15-12 lead after the conversion pass to Quinton Myles.

Vicksburg put the game away on a 10-yard strike from Henry to Brown.

Henry tossed three touchdowns to Brown in the shutout win over Canton, one of two teams to beat the Gators this summer.

Vicksburg opens the regular season Aug. 31 in the Red Carpet Bowl against New Orleans power John Ehret at Warren Central.

Williamson said he saw a lot of positives from the passing-only league, but expects even more by the opener.

“We’re out there strictly passing and that’s fine, but we know the balance point of our team is our running game and our big line,” Williamson said. “Once we get the whole package put together, then it will be fun.”