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WC, Train get back on track

[9/22/01]Message to Warren Central opponents: the “Train” is back on track. And that means WC’s offense could be on track.

John “Train” Hicks rushed for four touchdowns, three in the second half, as the Vikings drubbed Natchez, 31-0, Friday night.

“They were going to think I wasn’t the Train; they were going to think I was a short bus or something,” Hicks said with a smile.

WC, which had failed to run for more than 72 yards in its first three games, got the breakout game coach Robert Morgan has been looking for all season. The Vikings pounded out 311 yards on 51 carries while holding the Bulldogs (0-3) to 40 total yards.

“We still have lots to do, but we needed this,” Morgan said. “They need to remember what it feels like to win.”

After scoring on their opening series, it looked as if the Vikings’ offensive struggles were over. But the Bulldogs kept them at bay the rest of the first half. The trouble for them was, they couldn’t get going either.

“We couldn’t do anything offensively,” first-year Natchez coach James Denson said. “We played a decent first half; we just didn’t have good execution. That’s been our problem all year.”

The Bulldogs have scored just one touchdown in their first three games. WC had also been struggling on offense, managing just 23 points in its first three games.

The Vikings passed that total midway through the fourth quarter on Hicks’ 3-yarder. His first three TDs were 1-yard plunges.

WC ran by committee in the second half. Richmond Fields, starting for Patrick Minor after he had season-ending knee surgery earlier this week, led the way with 71 yards on 10 carries. In all, WC used 10 ballcarriers. Quarterback Brett Morgan had five carries for 64 yards, including a 44-yarder to the 1 that set up Hicks’ third TD. Hicks finished with 35 yards on 13 carries and defensive leader Andrew Patton came in on the last two series and had 54 yards on four carries. Hunt Gilliland added a 34-yard field goal.

“I’m just ashamed it took so long for us to get moving,” said Brett Morgan, who was 4-of-7 for 45 yards, all in the first half.

Brian Williams led Natchez with 38 yards on 15 carries.

Trailing just 6-0 at the half, Denson said he believed his team could pull off the upset.

“We wouldn’t have made the trip if I didn’t think we had a chance,” he said.

The second half was vintage Vikings punishing offense and punishing defense. On the opening series, they marched 73 yards in 15 plays, all on the ground, never gaining more than 15 on any play, before Hicks scored from a yard out.

The Vikings looked as if they would be unstoppable after their first series of the game. It took four plays for them to travel 56 yards. Morgan hit Carlton Bradford with a 19-yard pass, then Fields scrambled 23 yards off tackle to set up Hicks’ score two plays later.

“Coach Morgan challenged me,” said Hicks, who said he also did it for teammates Minor and Kacy Jones, who suffered season-ending injuries. “They were taking it too light on us (in practice). Now we’re starting to challenge each other.”