Northwest Rankin scores late to spoil Vikings’ victory bid|PREP FOOTBALL

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

The kicking game has been a staple for Warren Central the past few years, but Friday night against Northwest Rankin, it cost them a Region 2-5A opener.

The visiting Cougars blocked a field goal and an extra point in the first half and then came up with two turnovers in the fourth quarter to turn back the Vikings 13-9 at Viking Stadium. The loss spoiled a record-tying performance from Viking wide receiver Cordell Valentine, who tied the Warren County mark for single game receptions with 11.

“Keaton (Sanders) was throwing me some good balls,” said Valentine, who tied the record held by Vicksburg High’s Reggie Perkins and Ben Shelton, on WC’s last completed pass of the game, a 6-yarder to the WC 21 with 1 minute, 41 seconds left. On third down, Sanders tried to pick up the first down on a quick out, but was intercepted by Northwest’s Ricky Stutts with 1:34 left. The Cougars (4-1, 1-0) were then able to run out the clock to pick up the region opener.

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“It’s a region game and we won,” Northwest Rankin coach David Coates said. “We missed some chances early to get some big plays but we didn’t execute.”

The Cougars won despite a poor game from quarterback Chase Taylor, who completed 4 of 15 passes for 48 yards and overthrew two wide open receivers that could’ve gone for easy scores. He also had an interception, but Taylor got the big play when he needed it, hitting tight end Ross Robinson for the eventual winning score on a 25-yard TD pass with 6:23 remaining.

The score was set up after the Cougars blitzed Sanders on a third-and-7 at midfield.

Three Cougars got to Sanders, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Randy Christon and returned 20 yards to the Viking 27. On second down, Taylor hit a wide-open Robinson for the touchdown. The try for two failed, leaving the score at 13-9.

On the ensuing possession, the Vikings (1-3, 0-1) picked up a pair of first downs, including a 13-yard grab by Valentine to move the ball to the 50. WC, however, fumbled the first down play and then Sanders misfired on his next two passes. He finished 12-of-24 passing for 132 yards. Eleven of the passes went to Valentine for 131 yards. B.J. Williams had the other catch for one yard.

WC coach Curtis Brewer was glad to see his team come up with an improved effort from last week’s 40-8 loss to Hazlehurst, but was disappointed in the key mistakes that cost his team.

“We’re not where we want to be, but we were a long way from where we were last week. We just have to buckle up and get ready for the rest of district play. We had two or three key mistakes, the blocked kick, the extra point and then the fumble where they go in and score,” Brewer said.

Valentine started his big night with three catches for 54 yards to set up the Vikings’ first scoring chance on a 38-yard field goal try by Jared Thames. The snap was high and the kick was blocked.

Northwest got on the board with 6:04 left in the second when Taylor scored on a 1-yard sneak. A 31-yard reverse by Terrance Cosby, who had 138 yards on 18 carries, set up the score.

Down 7-0, WC came right back. Sanders hit Valentine three more times, all good for first downs to get the ball to the NWR 14. Joel Forbes then scored on a 14-yard run to make it 7-6. The PAT, however, was blocked, leaving the score at 7-6 with 2:43 left in the quarter.

WC grabbed its only lead of the game with 5:29 left in the third quarter when Thames made a 30-yard field goal to make it 9-7. A 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on the Cougars and a 7-yard completion to Valentine set up the score.

Tallulah 34, WCCA 12

Justin Horath ran for four touchdowns and a 2-pont conversion as Tallulah beat Wilkinson Christian.

Horath scored on runs of 9, 5, 2 and 20 yards and ended with 198 yards on 27 carries. Cody Landrum finished with 117 yards rushing on 13 carries. Tanden Baker had 12 tackles and two sacks to spearhead the Trojans’ defense.

Hinds AHS 37, Loyd Star 35

Darius Newton rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns as the War Dawgs (4-1, 2-0) won a Region 6-2A game in Utica. Keeslee Stewart had two touchdowns as well, including an 85-yard kickoff return.

Hinds took a 37-27 lead when Loyd Star scored and got the two-point conversion to make it 37-35. The Rebels got the ball back with one minute to play but Hinds’ defense forced a turnover on downs to end the game.