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THE TRADITION CONTINUES WC

THE TRADITION CONTINUES

WC quarterback Brett Morgan is lifted by linebacker Tyler DeRossette as kicker Hunt Gilliland joins the celebration.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[11/10/01]Every year that was supposed to be Vicksburg’s year, Warren Central answered the call.

On Friday night, the Vikings (7-4, 5-2 Region 2-5A) not only answered, they dominated.

Richmond “Caboose” Fields rushed for a game-high 125 yards and two scores and John “Train” Hicks had 111 as WC dismantled Vicksburg, 27-14, in front of an overflow crowd estimated at 6,000.

Most importantly for the Vikings, they created six Vicksburg turnovers.

“I didn’t see a Bus anywhere,” Hicks said, referring to Vicksburg’s Phelan Gray, who ran for 60 yards on 15 carries but said earlier that this game would not be a challenge for Vicksburg.

“Make sure Phelan gets this message: I’m the most powerful fullback in 5A and the state.”

Hicks had plenty of help from a staunch defense and an offensive line that helped three Vikings’ running backs gain 279 yards.

“The buck stops here,” said Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens, who lost his head-coaching debut in a series that has been dominated by WC. It was the Vikings’ 20th win in 21 games against the crosstown Gators. “I don’t know why. We work on things, work on things, but Warren Central did a good job. They played well.”

Warren Central ripped off touchdowns runs of 43, 48 and 46 yards and got two Hunt Gilliland field goals.

The Gators, though, fumbled three times and quarterback Justin Henry, who played most of the second half nursing an injured ankle, was picked off twice once by linebacker Tyler DeRossette and once by his counterpart, Brett Morgan. WC also intercepted A.J. Hicks once.

The explosive Gators’ offense was held to 268 yards, most coming late in the game.

“We could get drives going, then we would just fumble,” said Henry, who had 46 yards on four completions. “They were situations where you can’t fumble. You can’t beat many teams with six turnovers and you definitely can’t beat Warren Central, that’s for sure.”

The Vikings scored 17 points off of Gators’ turnovers and generated 346 yards of offense.

“We let the town down,” VHS senior linebacker Tim Brown said. “But we still have a chance.”

Two Gilliland field goals sandwiched Fields’ first touchdown, a 43-yarder, as the Vikings took a 13-0 lead into the half.

A.J. Hicks, who led the ninth-grade Gators to a convincing win over WC’s ninth-graders last year, played the entire first half. It was his first start as a varsity player.

“I was nervous,” Hicks said. “As the game went on, I got more comfortable. … We just couldn’t pull it through.”

Henry replaced Hicks at the start of the second half and sparked the lethargic Gators’ offense, but a punt and a fumble on the first two possessions kept VHS out of the end zone.

“We suspected (Henry) might come out in the second half, because we thought they’d try anything,” DeRossette said. “Whenever he did come out there, we knew all he was going to do was pass the ball.”

The Vikings put the game away after Brett Morgan intercepted Henry and returned it to the WC 17. The Vikings marched 83 yards in 10 plays capped by Hicks’ 48-yard TD run on fourth and short and took a 20-0 lead with 5:35 seconds left in the third quarter.

Henry was picked off again on the first play of the Gators’ next possession by DeRossette, who also had an interception in last year’s game. Two plays later, Fields burst free for a 46-yard score and a 27-0 WC lead.

“Our offense played very good,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “We moved the ball and put points on the board when we had opportunities. It takes everyone playing good and everyone played good out there.”

Vicksburg, which was in danger of being shut out for the eighth time in 11 meetings at Viking Stadium, rallied for a pair of late scores.

Ironically, the first VHS TD came after A.J. Hicks fumbled into the end zone and Chris Humes fell on the loose ball with three minutes left.

“That sums it all up right there,” Stevens said.

Gray added a 1-yard plunge two minutes later after John Dolley recovered and onside kick.

Warren Central, which four weeks ago was talking about not only missing the playoffs, but having a losing season, will face Tupelo in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs on Friday night.

“Four weeks ago, I never thought we’d be hosting a playoff game,” DeRossette said. “I was getting ready to watch my friend play Academy ball.”

Vicksburg, which lost to Madison Central in region play, will travel to Columbus.

“We have to put this behind us and get back to work on Monday,” Stevens said. “Our kids didn’t answer the bell tonight and at this level, you have to answer. If you are going to win this time of year, you’ve got to play.”