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Gators fall a bit short vs. Ridgeland

For a moment, it looked like the Vicksburg Gators might have another improbable comeback and last-second finish up their sleeve.

Ridgeland and its all-star quarterback saw through the magic act, though, and put a quick stop to it.

Vicksburg scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to chop a 23-point deficit to nine, before Ridgeland’s Zy McDonald led a scoring drive that sealed the Titans’ 49-32 victory Friday night.

“Tonight was truly a situation where we had opportunities to score on every possession. We moved the ball at will,” Vicksburg head coach Todd McDaniel said. “When you look at our backfield and you have two ninth-graders that ran the ball extremely hard, our future is bright. I can’t wait to put in an entire program in the offseason.”

Vicksburg (1-5, 1-3 MHSAA Region 2-5A) lost its third game in a row. Three of its previous four games had come down to the final play, and it looked like this one might as well.

Freshman running back Alex Jefferson scored two touchdowns for Vicksburg, while Sha’Kori Regan, Laurence Sullivan and Keveon Smith all scored one. Jefferson and Sullivan each scored on runs to cut it to 41-32 with about eight minutes left in the game.

Alex Jefferson

Richard Mays’ touchdown run with 4:58 remaining put Ridgeland (5-1, 4-0) back in front by three scores, however, and ended the Gators’ comeback hopes.

Ridgeland had led 28-12 at halftime and 41-18 entering the fourth quarter.

“We were a little star struck. I guess it happens,” McDaniel said. “Once we settled down we started making good plays. I was impressed with the effort. I’m not happy about the result.”

The Gators have two games left in the regular season to try and salvage their fading playoff hopes. They’ll play Canton next Thursday at Warren Central for homecoming — Vicksburg’s own stadium is still under construction and will not be finished until at least late November — and then go on the road to face Holmes County Central on Nov. 6.

It has not been an easy year, but McDaniel said he’s proud of his players and coaches for fighting through the adversity that has been thrown their way.

“I want to commend our coaches on continuing to work hard. Our special teams played well tonight. I’m proud to have a group of guys that are continuing to grind,” McDaniel said.