Four Down Territory: Flashes are on fire; Delta State is sinking

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You’re in Four Down Territory. Each week we’ll spotlight four notes, nuggets, stats or trends from the weekend that was in Mississippi high school football, college football, and the NFL.

St. Aloysius had a hard time keeping its offense on the field Friday night against Hillcrest Christian.

Normally, that’s a bad thing. In this case it was because the defense and special teams were doing too well, and the offense was scoring too quickly

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St. Al returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the first quarter — two of them before the team’s offense ever set foot on the field — and later returned a punt for a TD. Another punt return set up a short touchdown drive as well, as the Flashes cruised to a 63-0 victory.

In all, St. Al ran just 16 offensive plays and gained 222 yards, for an average of 13.9 yards per play. It led 35-0 seven minutes into the game, which triggered a running clock for the rest of it under Mississippi Association of Independent Schools rules and kept the carnage from getting even worse.

St. Al has now won four of its last five games, and is averaging 40.8 points per game during that stretch. Twelve of its 23 offensive touchdowns this season have been longer than 30 yards. It has also scored six times on defense and special teams.

Senior defensive back Thomas Trichell scored a defensive touchdown for the second game in a row. He had a 95-yard fumble return against Cathedral, and then returned an interception 15 yards for a score on the first play against Hillcrest.

Elsewhere in the MAIS, Class AAAA powerhouse Jackson Prep had its 26-game winning streak ended in a 42-21 loss to Madison-Ridgeland Academy. It was just the second loss in four years for Prep (8-1), which started its most recent streak after a 29-gamer end at the hands of Presbyterian Christian on Oct. 7, 2016.

The Patriots have won six consecutive MAIS Class AAAA Division I championships, and have only lost three games against MAIS opponents since that run started in the 2012 season.

MRA (9-0) beat Jackson Prep for the first time since 2010, and only the second time this century.

One of Mississippi’s most consistent college football programs is enduring its roughest season in decades.

Delta State lost 17-14 to West Alabama on Saturday to drop to 0-7 this season. The Statesmen, who won nine games and reached the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2017, are winless at this point in the season for the first time since 1997.

DSU rallied that season to finish 3-7. The following year it began a 20-year run that included the 2000 Division II national championship, another championship game appearance in 2010 and trips to the semifinals in 2006 and 2011, and seven Gulf South Conference titles. This will be just its fourth losing season in that span.

Delta State started playing football in 1926, and its only winless season was when it went 0-8-2 in 1940. It has had four other seasons in which it won one game.

Delta State has a bye this week and then three games left in which to avoid the oh-fer — at home against Shorter on Oct. 25, at West Georgia on Nov. 3, and the season finale at home against Mississippi College on Nov. 10.

The New Orleans Saints had a bye week on Sunday, which gave them a little extra time to celebrate Drew Brees’ achievements.

The longtime Saints quarterback threw for 363 yards last Monday night against Washington to break Peyton Manning’s NFL record for career passing yardage.

Brees is now atop the list with 72,103 yards and figures to stay there for a while whenever he finally retires. The nearest active quarterback on the list is New England’s Tom Brady, who had 67,758 yards. Brady is two years older than Brees and would likely have to play two seasons more than the Saints quarterback to get the career mark.

Brees’ next touchdown pass will be the 500th of his career.

That Brees set the yardage mark is also noteworthy for how it maintained the record’s connection to New Orleans. Brees is in his 13th season with the Saints and has become one of the city’s sports icons. Manning is a New Orleans native. Before Manning set the record it was held by Brett Favre, who grew up less than an hour away in Kiln, Mississippi.

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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