Vicksburg wins playoff opener over Pontotoc

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2008

Every time Pontotoc put pressure on Vicksburg with a score from Canden Dallas, the Gators answered with a touchdown of their own.

None were bigger than the 54-yard touchdown run by Malcolm Butler with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left that sealed the Gators’ thrilling 30-21 win over Pontotoc in a first round Class 4A playoff game at Memorial Stadium. With the win, Vicksburg (9-2) moves on to play at New Hope next week in Columbus in the second round. Pontotoc, the No. 3 team from Region 1-4A ended its season at 5-6.

Butler’s score was the last of four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Vicksburg had entered the quarter with a nine-point lead and left with a nine-point win thanks to Butler and a 3-yard TD run by Carlos Williams.

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Butler appeared set to take a 5-yard loss on the third-and-seven play from the VHS 46.

“I saw two big linemen headed my way, so I reversed field and turned the corner,” Butler said.

The senior, who runs a 4.3-second, 40-yard dash, picked up two blocks from his quarterback, Les Lemons, who led the Gators with 139 yards rushing.

“He got two blocks,” Butler beamed. “The first one got the corner and allowed me to get around the end and then he took out a linebacker near the 20 that got me home. Les is the man. He’s a tough guy, who has a big heart.”

Pontotoc coach Charlie Dampeer was left wondering what might have been had his team stopped Butler for a loss and forced a punt. The Warriors had the momentum following Dallas’ 38-yard pass to Ryan Thompson that set up a 1-yard dive that made it 23-21 after a Michael Bounds’ PAT kick with 6:13 left in the game.

“Butler is unbelievably fast but had we stopped when we had him, we would’ve gotten the ball back. We had four guys there. We just won’t get that chance,” Dampeer said.

Butler’s long run was one of three such runs for the Gators. Trey Prentiss had a 74-yard TD run on the Gators’ second play from scrimmage after the VHS defense had stopped Pontotoc’s first drive.

Pontotoc came back with Dallas scoring on a 3-yard plunge two minutes later to tie the game. A fumble by Randall Crayton led to Patrick Parker kicking a 31-yard field goal to give the Gators a 10-7 lead with 10:15 left in the first half.

Antonio Norfort had the Gators’ second big run, a 48-yard score to cap Vicksburg’s first drive of the second half. Parker missed the PAT kick to leave it at 16-7 with 9:18 left in the quarter.

Dallas’ 34-yard TD pass to Crayton on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 16-14. Vicksburg came back with a 35-yard kickoff return by Rodney Beacham. The Gators went the remaining 35 yards in five plays capped by Williams’ 3-yard TD run with 9:20 left to make it 23-14.

Vicksburg finished with 378 rushing and 414 yards in total offense.

“We did all of ours running and they did theirs with the pass,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said. The first round win was Vicksburg’s first since 2001.

“It’s a great feeling and we’ve worked on this all year. We just had great success with our cutbacks. You might can defend certain plays, but sooner or later that speed is going to make a difference,” Stevens said.

Dampeer agreed.

“They are very athletic and we couldn’t stop the long run. They answered every time we’d do something,” Dampeer said.

Dallas finished 12 of 20 for 155 yards and one score. Crayton had 122 yards rushing.


Contact Jeff Byrd at