Vikings use trick play to defeat Jim Hill

Published 12:13 am Saturday, November 3, 2012

JACKSON — The first time Warren Central ran its hook-and-lateral play this season, it went for a touchdown.

The second time worked even better. It went for a touchdown and a victory.

Marcus Ragan took the lateral on a short pass to Kourey Davis and scooted 82 yards up the right sideline for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:19 remaining, and Warren Central hung on to beat Jim Hill 16-9 Friday night.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

WC ran the play for a touchdown four weeks ago against Madison Central, and picked the perfect time to try it again. It provided a rare spark of offense on a night when both teams struggled to move the football.

Jim Hill finished with 216 yards of offense, 78 of them on a first-half touchdown pass from Justin Tidwell to Alex Williams. It started one drive in WC territory in the second half, but didn’t cross the 50-yard line on any of its other four possessions.

Warren Central had 205 yards before Carlisle Koestler threw a short hitch pass to Davis to start the deciding play.

“We knew they got our last two previous tapes and they hadn’t seen that,” WC coach Josh Morgan said. “It’s something that we went to at a time when we weren’t moving the ball offensively and we were getting down to crunch time. We were trying to win the game before it got to a time where it was out of our hands. They’ve worked on that play twice a week since we started practicing football. They have a lot of confidence in it.”

Warren Central (6-5, 5-2 Region 2-6A) had already clinched a playoff berth, but the win was still a big one for the program. It ensured WC won’t finish with a losing record and sewed up third place in Region 2-6A. The Vikings will head north to face defending state champion Olive Branch in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs next Friday.

Jim Hill (6-5, 4-3) finished fourth, thanks to Murrah’s 38-28 win over Northwest Rankin, and will open the playoffs at South Panola.

“This is a big win, because the last two years we’ve been in a slump,” said Ragan, who finished the game with 114 total yards. “Just to come back with a winning season, going to the playoffs, that’s the best feeling there is. Now we’ve just got to take some momentum into the playoffs.”

The hook-and-lateral was the second gadget play the Vikings turned into points. With the game tied 6-6 in the third quarter, they lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt. Koestler, on the field as the holder, pulled the ball up for a fake and passed to Greg King for a 19-yard gain. The drive stalled inside the 10, but Michael Mason lined up again and kicked a 26-yard field goal to give WC a 9-6 lead.

Although the drive had a happy ending for the Vikings, the play before the fake field goal loomed large. Ragan got open on a wheel route, but dropped a pass in the end zone. WC went three-and-out on its next two possessions, and a short punt led to a 32-yard field goal by Jim Hill’s Joshua Palm that tied the score at 9 with 3:17 left in the game.

Two plays later, Ragan got his shot at redemption.

Koestler tossed a hitch pass to Davis, who absorbed a hit while pitching to Ragan. The speedy sophomore got to the edge of the defense and ran untouched up the sideline for the touchdown.

Jim Hill got the ball back, but turned it over on downs with 45 seconds left.

“I felt like I owed the team because I dropped that touchdown pass,” Ragan said. “I just felt like I needed to make that play for the team. I did it for them. They were there for me the whole game, and I felt like I needed to pay them back.”