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Vikings overcome Mustangs, VHS blanks Greenville

Vicksburg 27, Greenville 0

GREENVILLE Vicksburg High turned in its best all-around performance of the season in a must-win game to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

The Gators were so dominant, in fact, that Greenville’s band left the stands and headed home early in the fourth quarter.

Behind a dominating defense and a steady ground game, Vicksburg defeated Greenville 27-0 on Friday. The Gators (4-4, 2-2 Region 2-5A) rushed for 166 yards 111 of which came in the first half and held the Hornets (0-8, 0-4) to 132 total yards.

“It’s important for us to win these next games,” said VHS quarterback Eugene Morgan, who threw for 76 yards and two touchdowns. “We had our heads on tonight.”

Vicksburg fed Greenville a steady diet of runs from the wing-T in the first half and opened the passing game up in the second half. Five different Gators gained at least 20 yards on the ground, led by Tyler Wells with 51 yards and a touchdown.

“This was the next one on the list,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said. “We’ve got two down, three to go. We’ve got to continue on. We’re putting it together, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

The defense registered three sacks and forced three fumbles, recovering one. The Gators held Greenville’s two quarterbacks to a combined 4-of-17 for 34 yards while registering their first shutout of the season.

“The defense has played all year,” Stevens said. “We’re right where we need to be.”

The Gators didn’t exactly start the game strong.

Greenville was forced to punt on its opening drive, but the kick was short and hit Vicksburg’s Byron Jones on the leg. Greenville’s Kerlanders Watson recovered the ball to set up the Hornets at the Gators’ 44-yard line, but they punted the ball again three plays later.

Vicksburg’s first possession of the game led to one of the strangest calls by the officials.

After stumbling out to a fourth-and-18 from their own 5-yard line, the Gators opted to punt the ball. Cameron Curtis’ punt was blocked and bounced out the back of the end zone, seemingly for a safety. Two points were placed on the scoreboard for Greenville and both sides brought out their special teams for the ensuing kickoff. But the officials huddled together to discuss the play, determined it was a touchback for the Hornets and gave them the ball at the Vicksburg 20-yard line.

Vicksburg’s defense held strong, forcing a 38-yard field goal, which fell short.

“It beats me,” Stevens said of the call. “But I know we’re overdue for some breaks. I don’t know what they saw.”

The Gators then marched 80 yards on 10 rushes to score on Wells’ 3-yard run for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Morgan then hit Vernon Wolfe on a falling catch in the end zone for a 20-yard score and a 14-0 halftime lead.

VHS opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 64-yard drive, capped by Zach Bryant’s 2-yard TD run.

Morgan then found Shannon Tillman on a 13-yard slant to give Vicksburg the 27-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

On the following drive, Greenville’s Lonnie Buchanan threw a pass deep downfield to Cordario Calvin, and Vicksburg’s Marcus Harris dropped the sure interception. On the next play, Buchanan found Calvin on a short route and Harris nailed him, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Gators’ Harold Knight to end any thoughts of a comeback.