Gray, Gators trample Forest Hill

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 8, 2002

Phelan Gray made sure that a letdown would not be a factor this homecoming.

The bruising Vicksburg fullback rushed for a game-high 136 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns as the Gators (7-3, 5-1 Region 2-5A) decimated Forest Hill, 32-7.

“We knew we had to play and can’t take any team lightly,” said Gray, who scored two first half touchdowns and added a third before being taken out of the game late in the fourth quarter because of what coach Alonzo Stevens called, “dirty play,” by the Rebels.

“The offensive line was on. They just hit whatever they saw.”

The win, coupled with a shocking Warren Central loss to Murrah, has the Gators tied for first in the region with Clinton. The Arrows beat Callaway, 21-6, and with a win next week can clinch the region title.

After Vicksburg put the game away late in the fourth, Gators’ wide receiver Quinton Miles and Forest Hill’s Tommy Burrell got into a shoving match in the end zone. The Rebels’ bench cleared and there was some pushing, but it never got out of hand.

Both Burrell and Miles were ejected, however. Miles’ status for Friday’s game against Warren Central is in limbo because of the ejection.

“He was perfectly in his right when it started,” Stevens said of the play that started as blocking downfield before escalating. “When the whistle blows, though, you have to stop. We have to do a better job of controlling that.”

Directly after, the Rebels were flagged for two more personal foul penalties and Stevens took most of the first team out of the game.

Austin Jones capped the wild drive with a 2-yard touchdown run the first of his career for the 32-7 margin.

Gray’s first two touchdowns gave the Gators a 13-0 lead before Forest Hill quarterback John Paul Reed capped a 16 play, 83-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to pull to within 13-7 at the half.

The Gators quickly forced the Rebels into a three-and-out and the ensuing punt snap sailed over the punter’s head allowing the Gators to take over on the Rebels’ 29.

Four plays later, Gray added his third score a 12-yard run for a 19-7 lead.

“They started cutting low, so that’s why we took Phelan out,” Stevens said.

Vicksburg QB Justin Henry followed Gray’s touchdown with a 27-yard pass to Michael Rainey and a 25-7 lead. Henry finished the game 8-of-11 passing for 116 yards. Vicksburg had 329 yards of total offense.

After that, a couple of Gator firsts happened when sophomore linebacker Daniel Jourdan had his first interception of his career with 4 minutes to play in the fourth.

That interception led to Jones’ TD after four straight carries.

James Weathersby led Forest Hill with 100 yards on 17 carries, but the Rebels did not threaten to score once during the second half.

“The defense shut them down in the second half,” Stevens said. “My hat’s off to the defensive staff.”

The Gators will host archrival Warren Central on Friday night in a series dominated by the Vikings. With a win, Vicksburg will be guaranteed a home playoff game to open the postseason.

“We’re still where we want to be, now you just have to go out and play,” Stevens said. “It’s two good football teams on a November Friday night. Turn on the lights and let’s play.”