Gators ground game golden|[11/14/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Vicksburg High beat Warren Central Friday night the same way the Vikings have beaten so many opponents over the years – grinding, ball-control offense with few mistakes.

&#8220We learned from the best,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said of the Vikings’ coaching staff soon after his team’s 10-0 win, the first time VHS has ever beaten WC on the Vikings’ home turf. &#8220I think they wanted us to speed the game up and we weren’t going to do that.”

Instead, the Gators ran the ball 53 of the 57 offensive plays and strung together long, sustained drives. The key drive spanned more than nine minutes and used 18 plays, John Howard’s 19-yard field goal gave the Gators a 3-0 lead.

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&#8220We knew we could dominate the running game and we didn’t throw a pass the entire first half,” said Vicksburg running back Tyler Wells, who had 67 yards on 10 carries.

Delmon Robinson led all rushers with 121 yards on 13 carries, while Chavous McWhorter ran for 119 yards on 23 carries. Robinson’s touchdown late in the fourth quarter put the game away.

After Howard’s field goal, the Gators stopped WC on five plays and forced a punt. Robinson then reeled off a 62-yard run to the WC 1-yard line. After a penalty moved Vicksburg to the 6, Robinson ran around end for the only touchdown of the game.

&#8220Coach (Stevens) had been preaching all week that if we could come out and get behind the big guys, we would have success,” Robinson said of the offensive line. &#8220We ran the ball good and the line played great.”

The maligned offensive line, criticized through much of the season as being a porous unit incapable of protecting the quarterback or opening holes for the ground game, came up roses against WC. Vicksburg averaged 6 yards per rush and gained 18 first downs, 11 more than the Vikings.

&#8220We had talked all week about dominating the line of scrimmage,” VHS senior lineman Trey Curtis said. &#8220We came out here and did what we had to do. We never quit and played all four quarters.”

Vicksburg, which has been known to throw the football plenty, tossed four passes all night. Stanton Price connected on two passes, including a key 9-yard pass on third-down to John Qualls, to keep the first scoring drive alive. He had 29 yards and no interceptions.

&#8220We owe it all to the line, they did a great job,” Price said.

Vicksburg has pitched back-to-back shutouts and will head into the Class 5A state playoffs riding a high note. Unfortunately, the Gators’ reward for making the playoffs is a trip to state juggernaut South Panola.

The two-time defending state champions have won 41 straight games and have not lost since the 2002 state championship game against Wayne County.

&#8220If you can find a way to win a state championship without playing South Panola, would you let me know,” Stevens said. &#8220Sooner or later we’ll have to play them, so it might as well be early.”