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Gators’ kicker hurts leg, may be lost for rest of season

[08/31/03] The Vicksburg Gators find themselves in a heap of trouble in the special teams game after their starting kicker was lost, possibly for the year.

Sean McGowan injured his leg close to his knee on a busted fake extra point attempt.

He said this morning that X-rays showed the bone was not broken, but he will have an MRI done on Tuesday to see what damage was done. McGowan said his knee was about three times its normal size, and he will miss at least six weeks, and may be lost for the season.

“It’s horrible,” McGowan said. “As much as I worked this summer and as much as I paid to go to kicking camps in hopes that coaches would take notice, it’s all down the drain now.”

McGowan’s injury was just the first in a rash of early season bumps and bruises:

Linebackers Ray Kline and Rory Johnson both had to leave the field several times because of cramps in their legs.

Roderick Erves had to be taken from the field in an ambulance after he started cramping, became dehydrated and nearly passed out on the Gators’ sidelines.

Doctors and trainers kept Erves alert while ambulance personnel carried him to River Region Medical Center.

Erves spent the night at River Region and was released Saturday afternoon, he said.

“We drink Gatorade before practice, after practice and during practice,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said after his team’s 33-18 loss in the Red Carpet Bowl to Southaven. “We’ll run a little bit more and try to condition some more. But really, it was a surprise.”

The biggest loss, though, is McGowan.

On an extra-point attempt after the Gators’ first touchdown in the third quarter, holder Ben Shelton rolled to the right, but after seeing that he could not score, he pitched to McGowan.

The senior kicker nearly made it to the end zone before being crushed by several Southaven defenders.

“There was supposed to be someone out to the right for Ben to pass to,” McGowan said. “But there was no one there. I saw Ben start running toward the goal line and I said I couldn’t just sit there and watch the play.

“Then he threw it to me and I got crushed by about five guys.”

Patrick Gray, the Gators’ only backup, kicked the rest of the night on kickoffs alone and may be called on to kick next week.

Vicksburg High ninth-grader Cameron Curtis may also be called up.

After McGowan’s injury, the Gators scored two more touchdowns, and each time the team went for the 2-point conversion.