VHS pulls one out in overtime|PREP FOOTBALL

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

YAZOO CITY — After giving up 99 yards in total offense and nearly 10 minutes of the clock on the opening drive, the Vicksburg High defense put the clamps on Yazoo City long enough to allow its special teams and the offense to rally for a 12-6 overtime victory Friday night.

Patrick Parker kicked two second half field goals, the second coming with 29 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, and Jeremy Hamlin won it on a 5-yard touchdown run after the Gators had stopped Yazoo City in the extra period.

It was a big win for Vicksburg (4-2), which was trying to bounce back from last week’s 40-13 loss to Pearl. With Pearl’s 27-14 win over Ridgeland on Friday coupled with the Gators’ upset of the Indians, Vicksburg is in a three-way tie for second. Pearl (3-0) is alone in first and Vicksburg, Yazoo City and Ridgeland are all tied at 2-1, but the Gators now own a key tiebreaker over the Indians (4-2).

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Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens was elated to see his team rise up and beat a quality Indians’ squad on the road.

“This is a game I’ve been pointing to all year. Yazoo City is a good football team. They have as much speed as we do,” Stevens said.

“On that first drive, we didn’t wrap up and they made some plays. We told our guys, we’ve got to tackle. After that, we were able to keep pressure on them,” Stevens said.

The Gators’ special teams were able to do the rest to help out an offense that struggled until overtime. The game was on the line when Parker lined up for his 29-yard try with 29 seconds left.

“I’ve never had that much pressure. But Les (Lemons) got the ball down quick. I can’t do it without the snap and a good hold,” Parker said.

Parker did not get a good snap on his initial field goal that came with nine seconds left in the third quarter. It came in to Lemons high and Yazoo City appeared set to block it. Parker, though, got enough on his kick and it just did get across the crossbar to make it 6-3.

“I had to stutter on the first one. I had to hit it quick,” Parker said.

Following Parker’s first kick, the Gators came up with another big special teams play when Malcolm Butler partially blocked an Indians punt and the Gators took over at the Yazoo 19. Hamlin gained six yards on second down to bring up third and about a foot.

Lemons gained six inches on a sneak to force fourth down. Vicksburg tried another sneak and Lemons appeared to have the first down at the Yazoo 9 but a second official came in and moved the ball back a foot. On the measurement, the Gators came up an inch short.

“You know, that official moved that ball back a good foot. Les got that first down,” Stevens said.

The Gators’ defense stopped two runs for negative yardage and forced an incomplete pass on third down. Butler got another hand on Yazoo City’s punt and it went just 12 yards to the Yazoo 15.

A second down motion penalty after Hamlin had picked up seven yards on first down forced Stevens to settle for overtime. Parker nailed the kick to make it 6-6.

In overtime, the Gators defense again stuffed the run. Indians quarterback Fred Claybon, who had accounted for 71 of his team’s yards on the game’s opening possession, was sacked for a 3-yard loss and his third down pass fell incomplete. Yazoo’s 26-yard field goal attempt never got off the ground.

Instead of trotting Parker back out, Stevens opted for two more runs. Lemons gained five to the 5. On second down, Hamlin bulled his way, twisting right at the end to get in for the score and end the game.