Published 12:00 am Monday, November 10, 2003

CHAMPS:Vikings swamp Gators to earn first outright title since 1994 championship

Passing game flourishes in title-clinching victory

Christian Hales’ smile was as bright as his blond hair Friday night.

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With a 2-ton weight on his shoulders under the glare of 8,000 fans, the senior quarterback stepped up with a gutsy performance to lead the Vikings to a 35-6 blowout of Vicksburg.

“This was my best game,” Hales said. “It’s a pretty good one to play in, too, I’d say.”

Hales threw for three touchdowns two to Amos Chase on 5-of-8 passing for 83 yards.

“It feels great,” Hales said between the showers of praise from friends and fans. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’ll probably hit me tomorrow morning that we just beat Vicksburg 35-6, and won the district championship.”

The pressure was on Hales from the beginning as Vicksburg’s gameplan was to stop WC’s running game, led by the quick feet of Larry Warner. Early on, the Gators’ defense held Warner back as he carried eight times in the first quarter for 25 yards.

“I knew I’d have to pass. I knew what I had to do to step up,” Hales said. “My team needed me to step up. Maybe they won’t underestimate us now.”

After a long Warner touchdown run was called back for holding in the first quarter, Hales connected with Chase on a wheel route. Chase broke away from his defender, and Hales floated the ball to him in stride for a 40-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead. The score proved to be the game-winner.

“The key to the game was the poise and the control of the game that Christian Hales had. He had a great game,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “He ran a good show and did what coach asked him to do on offense. Those passes were pin-point passes, and he’s just gotten better and better.”

The Vikings confidently went to the air again in the second quarter, taking advantage of great field position. From the Vicksburg 12-yard line, Hales faked an option run, dropped back and hit Ferdale Carr on the first play of the drive for his second touchdown of the game.

“The receivers were doing a good job of getting open. That’s what it was,” Hales said. “A.C., James Lewis, Ferdale, all of them did a good job of getting open.”

On the next drive, Hales ran the option around the end, sold the keep and pitched to Warner who bolted for 40 yards down to the Vicksburg 5. Warner then ran in for the touchdown on the next play.

Hales added the finishing touches with his third touchdown pass 10 yards to Chase to end a 9-minute, 40-second fourth-quarter drive.

“They came out and played,” Vicksburg cornerback William Erves said. “We just weren’t physical with them.”