Vikings end Red Carpet drought

Published 1:45 am Saturday, August 23, 2014

Warren Central players celebrate with the Red Carpet Bowl trophy after beating Terry 38-6 Friday night. It was WC's first Red Carpet Bowl win since 2008. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central players celebrate with the Red Carpet Bowl trophy after beating Terry 38-6 Friday night. It was WC’s first Red Carpet Bowl win since 2008. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Several dozen Warren Central players gathered at midfield Friday night, each one straining to touch the bronze football that sits atop the Red Carpet Bowl trophy.

Their ultimate goal is to do the same with the gold ball on the state championship trophy in a couple of months. This, however, was a great substitute.

The Vikings steamrolled Terry 38-6 Friday night to win their first Red Carpet Bowl since 2008. They rushed for 374 yards and held Terry to three first downs.

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“It’s amazing,” WC linebacker Derrick Thomas said. “All that hard work and dedication to the grind and hustle we put in finally paid off for us. We’ve been working the whole summer, running in the heat, to prepare for this and we finally made it. We finally got it.”

Junior running back D.J. Knight led Warren Central’s ground assault with 118 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Nick Caldwell ran for two first-half scores and DeArius Christmas had one.

Christmas capped the Vikings’ first possession of the game with a 2-yard TD run, and they never looked back. Knight had a 19-yard scoring scamper later in the first quarter, then Caldwell scored on runs of 10 yards and 1 yard to give WC a 28-6 lead at halftime.

John Austin Burris kicked a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and DeMarcus Jones had a 55-yard TD run with 16 seconds left to finish WC’s scoring.

Warren Central had a chance to add to its lead, but two touchdown passes were negated by penalties on a drive late in the second quarter and it ended with a failed fourth down conversion.

Two other promising drives in the third quarter stalled inside Terry territory.

“Our scouting report was basically what they showed us, and we executed,” WC wide receiver Chris Stamps said.

Warren Central allowed the fewest points of any team in Class 6A last season, and was one bad play away from starting 2014 with a shutout.

Midway through the second quarter, after Caldwell’s 1-yard score put WC ahead 28-0, Terry quarterback Rayshard Kennedy hurried his team to the line on first down. He kept the ball on a sneak, and somehow broke through the WC defense and into the clear. He outran the secondary for an 82-yard touchdown that was the only blemish on WC’s night.

Terry’s only other first downs came on its final drive with less than two minutes left in the game. Excluding Kennedy’s long run, the Bulldogs gained 42 yards on 34 offensive snaps.

“We had a mistake on defense, but we bounced back and didn’t allow any more points, and that was our goal,” Thomas said. “We were very confident. We knew our hard work was paying off. We trusted our defense and trusted ourselves.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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