Warren Central routs Clinton for seventh straight Red Carpet Bowl victory

Published 12:53 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

For most of the Red Carpet Bowl, it looked like Clinton had dipped its footballs in bacon grease before the game.

It was quite a tasty treat for Warren Central.

Clinton lost four fumbles, and Warren Central turned those and a couple of short fields into four first-half touchdowns as it beat the Arrows 28-7 on Friday.

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Warren Central won its seventh consecutive Red Carpet Bowl, and has allowed a total of 19 points during that streak.

“I’m very proud of our team tonight. It was a lot of emotions going. It was one of those nights. I thought our kids had a really good week of practice and I felt like our practices felt like playoff practices,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “We wanted to play better and do good, we wanted to beat Clinton, and our boys wanted to be Red Carpet Bowl champs.”

Warren Central only had 170 yards of total offense — Clinton finished with 261 — but the fumbles and defense were the difference.

Warren Central went three-and-out on the game’s first possession and punted. Clinton’s Veshone Malone muffed it and the Vikings recovered at the Clinton 43. Four plays later, Eric Collins Jr. broke through for a 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-3 for the Vikings’ first points of the season.

The rest of Clinton’s first-half possessions included two turnovers on downs and two fumbles by quarterback Sam Semi. Warren Central’s worst starting field position was its own 45-yard line, and it cashed in on the opportunities. Ronnie Blossom punched in a 1-yard TD run, Maddox Lynch scored from 2 yards out, and Collins from 17 to give Warren Central a 28-0 lead with 8:03 left in the second quarter.

“We had a great game plan. We wanted to have the quarterback to have somebody in his face all the time and force him into bad decisions. I thought we did that tonight,” Morgan said. “Every time something bad happened, we were right there and just did a really good drive.”

Clinton finally held onto the ball on its final possession of the first half. It drove down to the 16-yard line before stalling in the last two minutes and lined up for a 33-yard field goal attempt by Hayden Wolfe.
Warren Central’s Rickey Neal blocked it to keep the Arrows off the scoreboard.

“We bowed up and stiffened up and blocked that field goal going into half. That was a really big deal,” Morgan said. “I was proud to see that from our team, especially early in the year. That was a big stand.”

Clinton fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half to give Warren Central a chance to go up 35-0 and trigger a running clock. A miscommunication on first down resulted in a bad snap and a 23-yard loss, however, and the drive ended with a missed field goal.

After that, both teams settled in and more or less bled out the clock. Clinton scored on a 16-yard run by Jakobe Williams with a minute left in the third quarter to cut it to 28-7, but never threatened to get back in the game.

“We didn’t have a lot of push. I think both teams got tired. You could see it in the second half,” Morgan said.
Williams finished with 56 rushing yards on 13 carries. Semi was 15-for-25 passing for 176 yards, but had the two costly lost fumbles in the first half as well as a third that he was able to recover.

Collins led Warren Central with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. The rest of the Vikings totaled 12 yards on 19 attempts.

“We still left some points out there. We had a good opening kickoff, and that’s got to get in there. We’ve got plenty to work on. There’s stuff that we want to get better at, and we have a lot to get better at.”

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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