Missteps cost Warren Central one final time

Published 11:52 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The first time Warren Central star Kourey Davis touched the ball against Vicksburg in the first half turned out to be the last.

Vicksburg quarterback Cameron Cooksey fired a ball to A.J. Stamps, but Davis read his eyes, got in front of the pass and picked it off for an instant. Then Stamps, not to be denied, ripped the ball out of Davis’ hands and took it for a 13-yard gain. Vicksburg scored a few plays later as Stamps faked out Davis and caught a strike from Cooksey for a 14-7 lead the Gators did not relinquish.

It was a pivotal moment. A WC takeaway would’ve switched the momentum to the home sideline and blunted a Vicksburg scoring chance. But it just wasn’t in the cards.

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It was an analogy for WC’s entire season. Winning plays were often within the Vikings’ grasp, but fate often ripped them away.

The closest Davis came to replying was on WC’s final drive. On third down, the 6-foot-5 Davis was in single coverage against 5-foot-9 cornerback Lamar Anthony, with no safety help over the top. Quarterback Chase Ladd lobbed a rainbow to his favorite target, but the ball was overthrown by a few yards, out of bounds and out of the reach of Davis.

“We had our chances offensively,” WC coach Josh Morgan said. “We just couldn’t convert on the opportunities. We couldn’t throw the ball. We were handicapped offensively.”

The running game continued its late-season resurgence with 263 rushing yards. Aaron Stamps rushed for a season-high 180 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Curtis Ross and Greg King rushed for 43 yards apiece, and Ross had a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Penalties kept the Vikings’ offense from doing much of anything in the first half. They were flagged five times for 40 yards, including a holding call that wiped out a long run by fullback Given Breckenridge on their opening possession.

“It hurt us,” Breckenridge said. “We had a lot of big plays called back. You can’t play like that.”

Ladd couldn’t do much to ignite WC’s moribund passing attack. He completed just 2 of 10 passes for 6 yards and one interception, a badly thrown ball forced into a coverage blanket around Davis.

Defensively, the Vikings (1-9, 1-5 Region 2-6A) also missed the boat.

WC — as it has much of this season — struggled defending the run and was shredded by an improved Vicksburg ground game. Diminutive speedster Darius Youngblood, who stands a shade over 5 feet tall, had his best game of the season and is 47 yards shy of 1,000 for the season. He took advantage of being a head shorter than his linemen, reading creases and cutback lanes expertly en route to a 155-yard, one touchdown performance. His 31 carries showed the desire of Vicksburg’s coaching staff to achieve balance offensively.

“We keyed on No. 2 (Stamps), but the running game hurt us real bad,” WC cornerback Snoop Washington said.

Cooksey did not pile up huge passing yardage as WC did a decent job of limiting yards after the catch. But he still made the big throws when required, throwing three TD passes to Stamps.

WC closes out the season Friday at Jim Hill (2-8, 1-5) and the only thing the Vikings are playing for is pride. The loss to Vicksburg eliminated them from playoff contention for the second consecutive season.