Meridian levels Warren Central, 37-6|[9/24/05]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2005

A 61-yard touchdown pass by Meridian quarterback Justin Baylor a minute before halftime halted any momentum Warren Central was trying to gather Friday night at Viking Stadium.

The visiting Wildcats (2-2) then took care of the Vikings with a grinding 14-play, 80-yard drive to open the third quarter as the Wildcats bombarded WC, 37-6.

The loss was the Vikings second straight to one of the state’s best teams, but it was also a second straight 31-point loss. WC coach Curtis Brewer said the Vikings (2-2) must play better if they have any hopes of keeping their rich playoff tradition intact.

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“You can’t play 5A football if you can’t sustain drives. You can’t play 5A football if you blow coverages on defense and you miss blocking assignments,” Brewer said.

The Vikings appeared as though they were back in the game after spotting Meridian a 10-0 lead. A 31-yard run by Michael Holt helped set up his one-yard TD run to make it 10-6 with 5:31 left in the second quarter. The PAT kick by Joey Bonelli was blocked.

Meridian answered when Baylor set up a play-action fake and found flanker Montrez Mosley wide open for a touchdown and a 17-6 halftime lead.

“It was huge,” Meridian coach Ed Stanley said. “It was the biggest play of the game.”

Baylor said the running game set up the pass perfectly.

“When I dropped back I saw where the safety had dropped in. My receiver threw his hand up and I knew that was it,” said Baylor of the second of his four touchdown passes on the night. The pair had earlier hooked up on a 48-yard TD pass in the first quarter for the game’s first score.

“They hit a seam route because our guy didn’t pick him up. You can’t spot a team like that points,” Brewer said. “Meridian was ranked No. 2 in the preseason for a reason.”

Meridian iced the game with a nearly 8-minute drive to open the second half. Baylor converted three third-down conversions, including a 5-yard TD toss to Lindsey Spinks. Phillip Sullivan kicked his third PAT to make it 24-6 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

WC’s only play in third quarter resulted in a fumble. The Viking defense forced a punt, but a roughing the punter penalty gave the Wildcats new life at the WC 30.

Six plays later, power runner Cordera Eason scored on a 2-yard plunge. Eason finished with 185 yards on 30 carries.

Baylor capped his night hitting LeMario Joiner on a 14-yard TD pass with 4:54 left in the game. WC’s R.W. Comans blocked the PAT kick to leave the score at 37-6.

The Vikings had a shot to get on the board first following Rod Goings 22-yard fumble return to the Meridian 17. But on third down, WC quarterback Ryan Williams lost the ball following a blitz with the Wildcats recovering at the 29.

Baylor then hit Mosley on a 48-yard TD three plays later. He ended 6-of-11 passing for 146 yards and four TDs.

Sullivan, who had the first PAT, added a 31-yard field goal that was set up by a muffed Viking punt at the 29.

The Vikings were led by Holt, who had 123 yards on 15 carries. The Vikings, though, were outgained as a team 371 to 175.