Vicksburg aims for improvement

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vicksburg can take two positives from Friday’s 47-14 loss to Brandon in the Red Carpet Bowl.

One is that the loss will not affect the Gators’ playoff hopes. The second is they have a bye week to fix the mistakes before traveling to Richwood (La.) on Sept. 2.

Despite the stinging defeat, Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens is still confident that his team will right the ship and a bye week is just what it needs.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

“I believe that when it’s all said and done, we’re going to be a playoff team,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said.

Mistakes were myriad Friday night. Penalties — 14 of them — stymied drives and gave Brandon free yardage on offense it really didn’t need. Turnovers forced a defense playing without linebackers Shaquan James and Eli Brown — both out with injuries — to play in the shadow of its own goalposts for much of the night.

Much of that had to do with the punting game, as the Gators botched one snap and the Bulldogs got a hand on another. The Bulldogs’ average starting field position was at the Vicksburg 37-yard line and the score could’ve been a lot worse in the first half as Brandon quarterback Tre Polk threw a pair of ill-advised interceptions to A.J. Stamps and Clyde Kendrick in the red zone.

Defensively, the Gators (0-1) couldn’t find any consistency and made several costly mental miscues. With the Bulldogs in a shotgun formation, the defense didn’t account for Polk on a quarterback power play and he raced 46 yards down to the Gator 5, setting up his 1-yard plunge a few plays later. On another running play in the second quarter, the Gators seemed to have running back Davien Tillis stacked up on the sideline, but he broke three tackles and raced 76 yards to give Brandon a 23-0 lead at halftime.

Offensively, Brandon rendered Vicksburg one-dimensional and the Bulldog front seven was able to forget about any running threat and just go after the passer on nearly every down.

While running back Darius Youngblood finished with 60 rushing yards, most of that was gained on the last two Vicksburg drives against Brandon’s second- and third- stringers. In the first half, the Gators couldn’t establish any running game as Youngblood ran into a wall of defenders on nearly every play.

Quarterback Cameron Cooksey completed 20 of 43 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions, fumbled twice and was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.

He did a good job spreading around the ball, however, as six receivers caught passes. Stamps (seven catches, 132 yards, one TD), Lamar Anthony (two catches, 50 yards), Dillard Reed (four catches, 37 yards, one TD) and Kendrick (four catches, 33 yards) led the way for the Gators. But Stevens would like to see the Gators try to take better advantage of Anthony’s elusiveness.

“We’ve got to find a way to get Lamar Anthony some more touches,” Stevens said.