Brandon frustrates Warren Central yet again

Published 12:47 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

Warren Central changed the tone of Friday’s game against Brandon with some hard-hitting defense in the second half.

Brandon countered and prevailed with old-fashioned Blount force trauma.

Running back Nate Blount rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts, and carried the ball eight times on a 13-play drive that bled the last 7 1/2 minutes off the clock as Brandon beat Warren Central 20-7.

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The Vikings stabilized things after falling behind 17-0 at halftime, but couldn’t dig out of the deep hole against the team that ended its season each of the last two years.

“The second half (the defense) gave us a chance to get back in it,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “I thought we got better. We all wanted to win, but we became a better football team, I believe.”

Blount was stopped on fourth-and-goal on Brandon’s second series, but broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown on the next one to put the Bulldogs ahead 7-0 with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.

Conner Mullins kicked a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs cashed in a fumble deep inside WC territory for a 16-yard touchdown pass from Landon Varnes to Jay McQueen with 2:23 left for a 17-0 halftime lead.

The two touchdowns were among seven third-down conversions for Brandon (2-2) in the game. It also had one on the drive that resulted in Mullins’ field goal.

Varnes was 15-of-23 passing for 136 yards and one touchdown.

“You’ve got a three-year starter at quarterback. We had people all around him and in his face and he made some plays and kept them on the field,” Morgan said. “Our whole message this week was we’ve got to be us and be good at what we do. It was somebody not where they were supposed to be and stuff like that. When you play folks like that, they don’t need any help. Sometimes you can do everything right and they can convert and keep rolling.”

Warren Central came out of the locker room looking like a different team. Freshman quarterback Nash Morgan threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Zack Evans on the first play from scrimmage to cut it to 17-7, and the Vikings’ defense laid several hard hits on Brandon’s skill players.

One, a vicious shot on Varnes by defensive tackle Tekarius Qualls, drew a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty that led to a 49-yard field goal by Mullins. Those were the only points of the second half for Brandon.

Nash Morgan was 14-of-20 for 208 yards and one TD for Warren Central (2-2), and Evans caught five passes for 123 yards.

“They did a really good job on defense of adjusting,” Brandon coach Sam Williams said. “I thought we did a good job countering back, we just never could put that last one in to put it out of reach.”

Warren Central couldn’t get one in to get back in it, either. Their best chance was a 10-play drive that ended on downs at the Brandon 18 with 7:26 left, and they never got the ball back.

The Bulldogs converted three third downs during their 13-play march to the other end of the field, with Blount running for first downs on two of them. Varnes had the other on a 16-yard keeper around the right side.

Blount wound up carrying the ball eight times for 37 yards on the drive. The Bulldogs reached Warren Central’s 13-yard line before kneeling for the final two snaps.

“I think what you see that last drive is you’ve got a senior quarterback and a senior running back standing in the backfield and they look like they’re going to go down and get every first down they need to get,” Williams said.

On the final drive, Brandon running back C.J. Martin went down at the end of a run near midfield and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. Williams said Martin had a dislocated hip.

“Just a tough deal for that kid. We’re praying for him and hoping he has a quick recovery,” Williams said.

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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