Late score dooms WC, Gators enact revenge on NHS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Warren Central’s Chico Hunter, right, breaks up a pass intended for South Pike’s Kendrick Herring during the Vikings’ 24-22 loss to the No. 12 Eagles on Friday night at Viking Stadium. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

{9/11/04]Sam Reed took one step left, then cut right. With a burst of speed, the South Pike tailback sprinted the punt return 42 yards into the endzone for the game-winning touchdown.

Featuring a balanced offensive attack and several big plays, the 12th-ranked Eagles upset No. 8 Warren Central in a 24-22 thriller at Viking Stadium.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“This was a helluva ball game, that’s basically it,” South Pike coach Randall Huffman said. “They didn’t quit, we didn’t quit. It could have gone either way. These are the kind where you’re just glad to be on the winning end of it.”

The Vikings (2-1) had a chance to come back after Reed’s score that made it 24-20 with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining.

WC started at its own 29-yard line, and three plays later Lipatrick Webber intercepted Christian Hales’ pass. After an unsportsmanlike penalty, South Pike kneeled three times and then took a safety with 3 seconds remaining. WC’s Chico Hunter received the ensuing kickoff and fell to the ground but time had expired, sending South Pike to a 3-0 record.

“We played in spurts,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. “And the big thing we did was let them have big plays. We had the game probably won twice and let it slip away.”

South Pike quarterback Kelsy Island was 14-of-24 for 243 yards and a 6-yard touchdown pass. Larry Warner led the Vikings with 149 yards on 16 carries, including a 60-yard scoring run. The Eagles outgained the Vikings in total yardage 426-288, but lost four fumbles in the game.

“We played with a lot of emotion, a lot of heart,” Huffman said. “There were two or three different times we could have hung our heads and quit, but we didn’t do it.”

It was a see-saw battle all the way.

South Pike got on the scoreboard early with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. On the opening drive of the game, Island connected with Vincint Wheatly for two passes for 55 yards that set up Chris Abron’s 8-yard touchdown.

After holding WC to a three-and-out, the Eagles went to the air again on their second drive. Island found Wheatly on a 6-yard fade in the end zone to put South Pike ahead 12-0.

“They were playing 10 yards off us, and we’ve got a lot of people that can make plays,” Island said of the passing attack. “We got to give them the ball to make plays after the catch.”

Warner then received the kickoff at the 3 and returned it to the 40. On the first play of the drive, Warner busted right up the middle for a 60-yard TD that cut the lead to 12-7.

South Pike drove down to the Vikings’ 10-yard line before turning it over on downs midway through the second quarter. Warner then took a pitch left, broke three tackles and cut across the field to the opposite sideline for a 46-yard gain.

Fullback Dexter Carson dragged four South Pike defenders for 11 yards to the 1, and he punched it in on the next play for a 14-12 WC lead at halftime.

A Warner fumble at the WC 18 set up a South Pike touchdown that gave the Eagles an 18-14 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

The Vikings took advantage of South Pike’s second fumble of the fourth quarter with Carson’s second touchdown, a 1-yarder. The score was set up by Hales’ 62-yard slant pass to Fred Payne.

South Pike came back when Island found Wheatly again for a 71-yard pass. But Wheatly fumbled at the 5-yard line, and Hunter recovered it for WC.

The Vikings couldn’t take advantage and were forced to punt. Hunter got the punt off from the end zone, despite South Pike’s punt-block attack. But Reed needed only one small juke before taking it to the house and putting South Pike ahead for good.

“When you play South Pike, they’re very disciplined, very hardcore, country football players,” Brewer said. “We’re going to have to do a lot of soul searching and we’re going to come together, which I expect them to do.”

Vicksburg 52, Natchez 6

This summer, a well-known sports columnist came up with the idea of the “vengeance scale.” The basic idea was to take acts of revenge from sports and movies and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10.

Vicksburg High’s demolition of Natchez on Friday night would have rated a solid 8.2.

Five different Gators (2-1) scored touchdowns, Vicksburg rolled up 465 yards of total offense, and avenged last year’s bitter defeat to lowly Natchez with a 52-6 thumping of the Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium.

Natchez beat Vicksburg 14-12 last season for its only win of the season.

“That really filled a hole in us from last year,” said Vicksburg tight end Sean Gibbs, who caught four passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. “Coming out and being able to win like we did, it filled a big hole in our program.”

Vicksburg’s defense forced six turnovers and held Natchez (1-2) to 114 yards of total offense, including minus-2 rushing yards.

Offensively, the Gators were also better than they had been all season. After scoring just three touchdowns in the first two games, Vicksburg had dsurpassed that number by halftime.

Cordarryl Gleese led the rushing attack with 71 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while Chavous McWhorters had 44 yards and two scores. Eugene Morgan threw two touchdown passes, and backup quarterback Stefan Gibbs tossed one.

Despite the lopsided final score, Natchez scored first.

Jason Bruce hit Rodney Gray for a 32-yard gain on third-and-7 from the VHS 49 midway through the first quarter. Four plays later they hooked up again, for a 30-yard touchdown that gave Natchez a 6-0 lead.

Gray finished the game with six catches for 97 yards and the touchdown for Natchez, while Marvin Stampley had a sack and a fumble recovery.

It took Vicksburg exactly four plays to wake up, and Sean Gibbs provided the call.

Morgan dumped a short pass to the hulking tight end on a third-and-7 from midfield, and Gibbs plowed over two Natchez defenders on the way to a 17-yard gain. On the next play, Gleese took a handoff around the right side and sprinted into the end zone for a 33-yard score. Cameron Curtis added the extra point to make it 7-6, and Vicksburg never trailed again.

The Gators added three more touchdowns before halftime to take a 29-6 lead into the locker room. None of the scoring drives lasted more than four plays.

“That brought us back into it,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said of Gibbs’ catch. “We have a habit of playing down … That run emphasized what it was all about. We’ve got to fight.”