Gators dominate Hornets

Published 1:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens just wanted a 48-minute effort out of his troops.

He got that and more.

A much-maligned defense forced three turnovers and stoned a potent Greenville-Weston ground game as Vicksburg trounced the Hornets 20-0 on Friday.

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“The whole 48 (minutes), we finally got it,” Vicksburg running back Kawayne Gaston said. “Now we know what it takes to win. Now we know we need to play a whole 48 and I think that’s what we’re going to do here on out.”

The test came early in the second quarter, with the Gators up 6-0 after a 2-yard score by Gaston. The Hornets (4-3, 2-1 Region 2-6A) marched down the field with a grinding ground game, but in the red zone, the Gator defense stiffened. On fourth and goal, Vicksburg cornerback Lamar Anthony jumped in front of Willie Mosby’s pass and picked it off.

From there, Gaston and Vicksburg’s offense rolled down the field. Gaston dragged defenders on a 20-yard scamper, while quarterback Cameron Cooksey found favorite target Alvin Stamps for a 30-yard gain. Cooksey hit Gaston on a 25-yard screen pass to get the Gators into the red zone. But after Gaston was stuffed twice near the goal line, Cooksey rolled out and found Milan Nasif on third down for a 8-yard TD hookup with just 21 seconds left in the half. The TD pass and the Travis Haas kick gave the Gators a commanding 13-0 lead going into the break.

In the second half, after the defense stopped a promising Hornet drive, Adam Reed gave the Gators great field position with a 36-yard punt return to the Greenville 40. A few plays later, Reed capped the scoring as he took a toss 5 yards to paydirt.

With a 20-0 lead, the Gator defense continued to hold sway. After forcing a turnover on downs, the Hornets advanced down to the Gator 35. But the Vicksburg defense forced its second takeaway, as Bradford Smith plucked a tip-drill Mosby pass tossed into heavy coverage.

The Gators completed a takeaway trifecta on the final Hornet drive, as Jonathan Tenner intercepted a desperation heave with time winding down in the fourth.

The key was forcing the Hornets into third-and-long situations by stuffing the run on first and second downs. The Hornets managed only 134 yards on the ground and Mosby’s inaccuracy — completing 10 of 19 passes for just 73 yards and three interceptions — played right into Vicksburg’s game plan.

“We didn’t do anything fancy,” Vicksburg defensive coordinator Tim Hughes said. “I had a coach tell us that we had been popped in the mouth and hadn’t responded. But tonight, we responded. They have a very physical running game and we took on that challenge.”

The offense held up its end of the bargain as well.

Gaston put the oomph into a balanced Vicksburg attack, rushing for 113 yards on 18 carries with one score. Cooksey completed 7 of 14 passes for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The victory puts Vicksburg (1-6, 1-2) right in the thick of the race for the final twol playoff sports in the region.

“It’s just momentum,” Nasif said. “It lets us know that we can win. We’re ready for everybody, we’ll see how we do against Madison (Central) and we’ll take it one week at a time.”