Gators get needed W’

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

Vicksburg High receiver James Jackson tries to break away from a Forest Hill defender after catching a pass in the first half Friday. (Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/9/04]On a less-than-pretty night, Vicksburg High ground out an ugly win that was simply beautiful.

The Gators ran for 287 yards, held Forest Hill to 56 yards of total offense, and got a much-needed shot in the arm with a 20-7 win at Memorial Stadium.

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Tyler Wells led Vicksburg’s ground attack with 76 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Eugene Morgan threw for 79 yards on 12-of-22 passing and ran for a touchdown.

The win kept Vicksburg’s playoff hopes alive. The Gators (3-4, 1-2 Region 2-5A) will likely need to win their last four games to earn a spot in the postseason.

“This might have been one of the biggest wins we’ve had this season,” said VHS defensive back Marcus Harris. “It’s probably going to get us back on track. If we would have lost this, we’d have been out of the playoff hunt for sure. Now we’ve still got an open shot. We’ve just got to win these next four and we’ll be all right.”

Vicksburg’s defense was its usual dominant self, but the offense also showed signs of life. VHS mounted three drives of eight plays or longer, with two resulting in scores.

The first, a 13-play, 61-yard march, ended with Chavous McWhorters’ 1-yard touchdown run and gave the Gators a 7-0 lead with 1:33 to play in the first quarter.

Forest Hill (2-5, 0-3) answered with a short touchdown drive to tie the game in the second quarter. A missed handoff caused a fumble that the Rebels recovered at the VHS 36-yard line. Eleven plays later, Steve Bunley finally punched it into the end zone on a 6-yard run with 6:34 to go in the half.

It was the last time Forest Hill’s offense showed any punch against the Gators’ defense. Vicksburg held Forest Hill to 5 yards of total offense on the Rebels’ last six possessions. Two of Forest Hill’s three first downs in the last two-quarters plus came on pass interference penalties.

“We wanted to get a shutout. We couldn’t get the shutout, so we just held them to seven,” Harris said. It’s the fifth time in the last six games Vicksburg has held its opponent to 13 points or less.

The Gators, meanwhile, chugged along. Tyler Wells broke a 53-yard touchdown run with 3:38 remaining in the first half to put VHS ahead for good, 14-7.

In the third quarter, Morgan capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run to give the Gators a 20-7 lead and some breathing room.

Vicksburg’s offense struggled at times, bogging down in the red zone for a second straight week. Twice, the Gators settled for field goal attempts that were missed or blocked. Both McWhorters’ and Morgan’s touchdown runs came on fourth-and-goal. One drive ended in a missed field goal at the end of the first half, and another ended just inside the Forest Hill 20 after a missed field goal.

Still, the Gators were good enough to get a win and that was enough for one night.

“That’s a big win. We really needed this,” Morgan said. “We’re looking forward to trying to win five games, and we needed it. We came out real sloppy, but it’s a win and that’s what I’m going to say.”