Gators’ defense steps up in win over Cleveland Central

Published 2:32 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

Vicksburg High’s much-maligned defense stepped up big in the clutch Friday night.

The Gators, who had given up more than 1,000 rushing yards and 126 points in their previous two games, kept Cleveland Central in check and got a late interception return touchdown by Robert Wilson to seal their 34-21 victory.

Vicksburg (2-4, 1-2 Region 2-5A) snapped a two-game losing streak and kept alive its hopes of making a late push toward a playoff berth. It’s now in a three-way tie for fifth place in Region 2-5A. It’ll go on the road next week to play Ridgeland, one of the other teams in the tie.

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“It was a big win. With the way they played last year, we were expecting that kind of game again and for them to mimic what other teams had done to us recently, and that wasn’t the case,” VHS assistant coach Shaun Archer said. “Because we worked so hard defensively to fix those things we had been doing wrong, it was a big boost. It was an important win for us. We needed this one.”

Archer was serving as the Gators’ head coach in place of Tim Hughes. Hughes missed the game for the birth of his daughter, Marleigh Rose, on Friday.

Tacarie Stewart rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Gators, while Levi Wyatt was 12-of-23 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Wyatt has thrown 10 touchdown passes in his last three games.

Cedric Phillips hauled in one of the TD passes, and also had a 52-yard touchdown run. He finished with 154 total yards — 89 rushing and 65 receiving. Tyrese Wolfe also caught three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

The Gators led 20-7 early in the third quarter after Phillips’ touchdown run, but Cleveland Central (2-5, 2-1) came back to take a 21-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

After getting the lead back once more, Wilson’s interception return with 1:51 left in the game sealed the win for the Gators.

“The defense stepped it up. We were in there with them the entire game and they put on agreat show. They’ve been working hard all week and we were drilling into them what they had to do better, and they had a great week,” Archer said. “We swarmed to the ball tonight more than in the past couple of games. Every man played his part tonight to get that win. And the defense doing its job made it easier for the offense because we had better field position to work with.”