Warren Central sails past Gulfport

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

Gulfport running back Courtney Moore (27) is tackled by, from top, Warren Central’s Jesse Pedyfoot, Donald Neal and Chico Hunter (9) in the first half of the Vikings’ 17-7 Red Carpet Bowl victory on Friday night at Viking Stadium. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[08/30/03] Chico was the man for Warren Central Friday night.

Victor “Chico” Hunter, a sophomore cornerback making his first varsity start, returned an interception 48 yards for the go-ahead touchdown as WC put the clamps on Gulfport’s high-flying offense and claimed a 17-7 win in the Red Carpet Bowl.

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Fred Payne ran for 96 yards on 15 carries for WC, and Jason Williams added a 15-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run. But it was the Vikings’ defense that saved the day.

After Williams’ touchdown run cut Gulfport’s lead to 7-6 with 7:24 to play in the third quarter, a bad snap nixed the extra point attempt and left the Vikings trailing by a point.

The WC defense forced Gulfport into a pair of three-and-outs on its next two series, and then into a third-and-three situation early in the fourth quarter.

Gulfport quarterback Shabazz McClellan threw a short out pass near midfield, and Hunter stepped in front of the receiver at the Gulfport 48. Hunter then streaked up the sideline and shed McClellan’s tackle attempt at the 10-yard line to complete the return.

Williams added the two-point conversion on an option play to put WC ahead 14-7 with 10:12 to play in the game.

“Coach worked with me all week about playing my position, so that’s what I did. I played my position and scored off of it,” Hunter said. “I read the quarterback and just made a big play.”

Gulfport moved the ball into WC territory on its next possession, but the Viking defense forced another turnover when McClellan fumbled at the 30-yard line with 7 minutes remaining.

The WC offense took the turnover and ate up five minutes of clock and 50 yards of field. The drive finally stalled at the Gulfport 23-yard line, and Will Clark hit a 40-yard field goal to give WC a 17-7 lead with 1:57 to play.

Gulfport had one last drive, but seemed to concede defeat. The Admirals didn’t use any timeouts, and the drive ended when receiver Richard Dubuisson fumbled at the WC 35 at the end of a 31-yard pass play with 4 seconds remaining.

The third turnover of the fourth quarter ended a miserable night offensively for Gulfport. The Admirals dropped a half-dozen passes, committed four turnovers in all, and had three quarterbacks complete 16 of 38 passes for 220 yards.

Senior Adam Carlson was Gulfport’s leading passer, completing 12 of 26 passes for 170 yards. McClellan was 4-for-8 for 50 yards and a touchdown and also caught three passes for 42 yards as a receiver and Greg Anderson was 0-for-4 passing.

“It just seemed like a comedy of errors, or Murphy’s Law. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong in the second half for us offensively,” Gulfport coach Joey D’Angelo said. “I thought the defense stuck their heads in there and played real hard. We had a golden opportunity to win the football game, and the interception for a touchdown was a killer. It was a backbreaker.”