Vicksburg beats Callaway to advance to Class 5A semifinals for first time since 2001

Published 12:09 am Saturday, November 19, 2022

When he took over Vicksburg High’s football program in 2020, head coach Todd McDaniel talked about getting the Gators into a position to play late for championships late in November.

It is no longer wishful thinking or idle chatter.

DeCorey Knight scored three rushing touchdowns, Malik Montgomery had an 85-yard TD run, and Vicksburg defeated Callaway 27-22 on Friday in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs.

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The win sent Vicksburg (10-2) on to the semifinals for the first time since 2001. It will play West Point at home next Friday for a trip to the Class 5A championship game in Hattiesburg on Dec. 3.

“It’s a great feeling. We started working on this June 16, 2020. The staff I have right now, I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” McDaniel said. “We’ve built a family here. We talked about this. We expected this. Now we’re just happy to see it come to fruition.”

Vicksburg beat Callaway 30-7 in the regular season, but had to hang on in this one.

Knight scored on a 33-yard run and two short runs as the Gators built a 27-0 lead in the first half. Several offensive linemen suffered minor injuries, which slowed the offense to a crawl in the second half.

Callaway got within one score, but Vicksburg escaped.

“Pretty much everything worked in the first half. But we had guys on the offensive line who had never played on the offensive line in the second half,” McDaniel said. “We were just trying to get out of there. It was no serious injuries, but it hindered us tonight.”

The Gators will come back to Memorial Stadium next week for their biggest game in 21 years.

The opponent will be West Point, which beat Neshoba Central 34-33 in another second-round game Friday. West Point has been to six consecutive Class 5A championship games, and beat Vicksburg on the road to No. 6 in 2021.

“To be honest, we don’t care if it’s the Bears coming down here,” McDaniel said. “We’re going to be playing for the North State championship, and whoever shows up that’s who we’re going to play. But in order to beat the man you’ve got to beat the man.”