Northwest Rankin spoils Warren Central’s homecoming

Published 4:02 am Saturday, September 22, 2018

Warren Central’s steady ground assault turned out to be no match for Northwest Rankin’s aerial bombardment.

Jamari Jones shredded Warren Central’s defense for 349 passing yards and four touchdowns, Jarrian Jones caught 11 passes for 166 yards and two scores, and Northwest Rankin topped the Vikings 45-28 Friday night in the Region 2-6A opener for both teams.

Warren Central ran for 359 yards — running back Jerrious Stovall and quarterback Antonio Thompson each had more than 100 — but it wasn’t enough to counter Northwest Rankin’s explosiveness. The Cougars had three touchdown drives of either one or two plays, and six pass plays of 20 yards or more.

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“Explosive plays is how it got away. We were having to earn everything we got, and we couldn’t make that big play. And on the other side of the football, we couldn’t stop the big play,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “We would do a good job containing them, but they have explosive, explosive players and they made some explosive plays that were really backbreakers.”

Besides hitting big plays, Northwest Rankin (4-1, 1-0 Region 2-6A) hit them at opportune times. The Joneses connected for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 2:19 left in the first half to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead. Warren Central fumbled on its ensuing possession, and on the first play after the turnover running back Dee Baker turned a short pass into a 72-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 1:14 to go.

Early in the third quarter, Warren Central’s David King returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown to again make it a one-score game. Northwest Rankin’s P.J. Lindsey broke a 48-yard run on the next play from scrimmage, however, and Jamari Jones followed it with a 7-yard TD pass to Bridley Thomas to push it back to 28-14.

“It’s tough, because you’re chasing points already. Their second series after the pick-six could have really swung the game for us if we got a stop there. But they did a really good job of making those plays. They outgained us in explosive yards,” Morgan said.

Thompson scored on a 3-yard run on Warren Central’s next possession to make it 28-21, but Northwest Rankin pulled away from there. A pair of long drives resulted in a 5-yard TD run by Lindsey and a field goal by Gavin Gaudin. Baker later broke a 62-yard touchdown run to make it 45-21.

Warren Central held the ball for 11 of the 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t come up with enough big plays of its own to close the gap. A 5 1/2-minute drive netted no points, and then another drive lasting more than five minutes ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Lamar Gray with only 18 seconds left.

Northwest Rankin had four offensive plays in the fourth quarter. One was Gaudin’s 37-yard field goal on the first play, and another was a kneeldown by Jamari Jones on the last. Baker’s long TD run and a short run by Lindsey were the other two.

Lindsey finished with 108 rushing yards on 18 carries for Northwest Rankin.

Stovall ran for 141 yards and a touchdown for Warren Central (1-3, 0-1), and Thompson had 117 yards and a touchdown. Gray totaled 59 yards and a TD on only seven carries.

Warren Central fell to 1-3 for the first time since 2012, which was also the last time it allowed more than 45 points in a game. Worse, it dropped a game to one of its key competitors for a playoff berth in Region 2-6A.

The Vikings will go on the road to play Greenville (1-4, 0-1) next week, and then a four-week stretch that includes games with state powers Madison Central, Clinton and No. 1 Starkville awaits on the other side.

“We fought our tails off tonight, and they just came out on top. Coming in Monday we’re just looking to the next game. This one’s behind us, we left it on the field, and we’re ready to move forward. We can’t look at the past. We have to keep on grinding,” Warren Central offensive lineman Reed Buys said. “We know what we’re capable of. It’s a tough loss. It definitely hurts us. We just have to keep moving forward and come in ready to fight next week.”

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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