Vikings overcome Mustangs, VHS blanks Greenville

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 18, 2004

Warren Central’s Larry Warner runs past Murrah defenders Wilson Davis (30) and Trevious Brooks during the Vikings’ 33-12 win on Friday night. Warner was held to a season-low 45 yards rushing, but he scored two TDs. (Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/16/04]JACKSON Two weeks shy of Halloween, Warren Central went into a new house of horrors and got a small scare from Murrah.

Chico Hunter intercepted two passes, returning the second for an 85-yard touchdown, and Otis Stamps had two long kick returns to set up short scoring drives as WC overcame a sluggish offense and an early deficit to beat the Mustangs 33-12.

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“They’re up in your face, they’ve got good athletes and great team speed. We never could break out and run,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said of Murrah (2-5, 1-3 Region 2-5A). “They put a lot of pressure on us. We didn’t do well pass blocking, but I thought the defense hung in there and played good.”

The last time WC (7-1, 4-0) went to Newell Field, in 2002, Murrah sprung a 25-22 upset on the Vikings. For much of the first half, it looked as if another shocker could be in the works.

Murrah bottled up WC running back Larry Warner, held the Vikings to 91 yards in the first half, and controlled the clock for 9 1/2 minutes of the second quarter with a strong rushing game.

Dujan Cam, who ran for 108 yards in the game, scored on a 2-yard run with 2:22 to play in the first half to give Murrah a 6-3 lead.

“Offensively, we didn’t come out here ready to play,” said Warner, who ran for two touchdowns but was held to a season-low 45 yards on 15 carries. “We came out here looking at their record. Point-blank, we came out flat tonight.”

On the ensuing kickoff, WC struck back in a big way. Stamps fielded the ball at his own 8-yard line, hit a seam in the middle of the field, and took it all the way to the Murrah 5 before he was tackled.

Two plays later, Warner scored from a yard out to put the Vikings back in front, 10-6.

“It picked us up,” Brewer said of the kickoff return. “It put us down there and the offense scored and got a little confidence, and then they started playing a little better.”

WC’s defense took control in the second half.

On the first series of the second half, Desmond Carson sacked Murrah quarterback Erick Collins in the end zone for a safety. Stamps then returned the free kick 47 yards to the Murrah 24, setting up Warner’s 12-yard touchdown run two plays later to make it 19-6.

“We’re still making mistakes and turnovers. Special teams hurt us tonight. We were right in there with these guys. We were prepared for them and we did what we set out to do, and that’s stop (Warner),” Murrah coach Malcolm Jones said. “We just came up short. We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves.”

Fred Payne seemingly put the game away with a 20-yard TD run with 6:41 to play in the fourth quarter, but Murrah wasn’t through.

Collins floated a 6-yard touchdown pass to Elliot Moore with 1:29 left to cut it to 26-12, and the Mustangs recovered an onsides kick. Collins found Moore again on the next play to move the ball to the WC 30, but the quarterback threw it right to Hunter on the following attempt.

Hunter weaved through the Murrah receivers, sprinted past the offensive line, broke a couple of tackles along the way, and cut back at the Murrah 40 on his way to an 85-yard, game-sealing touchdown.

“I was just looking at the end zone,” Hunter said with a smile. “I saw some green and did my best to take it.”

It was a fitting end to a night in which defense and special teams carried WC to a win. The Vikings totaled just 206 yards in the game and Warner, who had 1,247 yards coming in, was held under 100 yards for the first time this season.

The defense forced four turnovers, though, and Stamps’ returns gave the Vikings excellent field position. WC’s four scoring drives on offense totaled 77 yards.

“It was a good time to step up,” Hunter said. “Like we said early in the year, the defense is going to score points.”