Long drive gives VHS big boost

Published 11:23 am Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MONTICELLO — Vicksburg’s 81-yard march that put it up two scores against Lawrence County in the fourth quarter might be the turning point for the season and Tavares Johnson Sr.’s program.

The 14-play drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tavares Johnson Jr. to Edward Davis, gave the Gators some breathing room. A few minutes later, they were celebrating their first victory on the elder Johnson’s watch.

Johnson Jr., who had his best game in a Gator uniform, looked everything like the former Cleveland East Side quarterback who led his dad’s Trojans to 24 wins over the past two seasons.

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“This was a very inspirational win for us,” Johnson Jr. said. “It reminded me a lot of the playoff game with Charleston last year at East Side. There was a lot of intensity.”

Johnson went 4-for-5 passing for 48 yards on the decisive drive. The four completions went to four different receivers for gains of 15, 17, 11 and 5 yards. He also scrambled for runs of 13 and 6 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the Cougar 1 when the third quarter ended.

After a motion penalty pushed the Gators back 5 yards, Johnson ran for a yard. On third down, he went back to the air and found Davis for the score.

“Red did everything well for us,” Johnson said of Davis, who caught three passes for 47 yards and also had a 47-yard kickoff return to set up Vicksburg’s first score.

Johnson was big, too. He was 12-for-21 for 145 yards in the game, to go along with a pair of short touchdown runs. Add in scores from Pat Brown and Charles Thomas, and the Gators enjoyed a 27-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Lawrence County came back with two scores in the final 1:45 of the half, including a 40-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left that made it 27-14. A muffed punt with five minutes left in the third quarter set up the Cougars’ third score and cut the deficit to 27-20.

Then Vicksburg put the game out of reach with its long drive, which impressed Lawrence County coach David Parker.

“We’re both young teams, but they did a good job responding after we had cut it down from 27-0 to 27-20,” Parker said. “I hope our guys learn we can’t spot a team 27 points.”

Johnson Sr. credited Brown, his running back, who finished with 103 yards on 20 carries. The Gators had 156 rushing yards in the game.

“My game ball goes to Pat Brown,” Johnson Sr. said. “He ran with authority. We made some more strides. We just need to get better on defense.”

Vicksburg will host Jim Hill in its home opener Friday.