Gators stun red-hot Clinton

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2001

Fullback Phelan Gray (4) and center Paul Gorney (62) celebrate the Gators’ 30-10 win over the Arrows, their first since 1993.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[10/20/01]Vicksburg High hit Clinton from every direction, then David Heard delivered the knockout blow to give the Gators one of their biggest wins in recent memory.

VHS (6-2, 3-1 Region 2-5A) handed the Arrows (4-4, 3-1) their first 2-5A loss, 30-10.

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It was VHS’ first win over Clinton since 1995. The Arrows, last year’s 5A state runner-up, came to Memorial Stadium on a four-game winning streak.

“This was the biggest win since the glory days,” said first-year VHS head coach Alonzo Stevens, who was a long-time assistant. “In the last three weeks, our defense has taken it to another level and taken the rest of us with them. The coaches and players prepared so hard for this one.”

Phelan Gray scored his second 4-yard touchdown of the night to put VHS up 23-10 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Arrows were driving when quarterback Mike Cashion completed a 15-yard pass to Desean Dyson. VHS’ Chris Humes stripped the ball, Heard caught it in midair, then beat one man for the 43-yard win-sealing score.

“I knew I had him it was the quarterback,” Heard said with a laugh.

The Gators’ defense, led by Tim Brown and Decorey Knight, held the Arrows’ vaunted running game to 117 yards on 27 carries.

VHS set the tone early, stopping Clinton’s first four running plays for a loss or no gain.

“I wanted it so bad, it brought tears to my eyes,” said linebacker Tim Brown, who had 10 tackles. Knight and D’Eldrick Taylor had seven tackles apiece and Heard had six.

“We came of age in the Madison Central game, so this was no surprise,” said defensive coordinator Robert Erves, whose squad held MC to 10 points in a loss two weeks ago.

Clinton scored first, with a 38-yard field goal from Carter Mascagni after Cashion completed passes of 43 and 34 yards to Oge Oge.

VHS responded with a 16-play, 88-yard drive which included two fourth-down conversions before J.J. Brown scored from 9 yards out. Victor Parker, who kicked the PAT, added a 34-yard field goal as time expired at the half, giving VHS a 10-3 lead.

The Gators primarily used a no-back set with three, four and five wideouts in the first half. In the second half, they came out with J.J. Brown at quarterback and four straight runs, then went to a power game. Brown finished with 84 yards on 11 carries and Gray added 76 yards on 17 carries. VHS had 241 rushing yards on 42 carries.

“We were just baiting them up, then we came out and hit ’em in the stomach in the second half,” Gray said.

Quarterback Justin Henry shook off two interceptions and went 8-of-15 for 102 yards, spreading the ball around to six receivers. Jermaine Wright caught two for 42 yards.

“They’re better than last year and we’re not,” Clinton coach David Bradberry said.

Gray’s first TD finished off a 12-play, 83-yard drive and gave VHS a 16-3 lead. Clinton came back with Cashion’s 14-yard TD to Cordell Caston on the first play of the fourth quarter, making it 16-10. But VHS kept the ball for six minutes, going 80 yards in 11 plays.

“If we keep playing like this,” Tim Brown said, “it may be the best season ever at Vicksburg High. This was the whole team, from the sidelines to the starters.”