Four Down Territory: Blackmore breaks out, and county quarterbacks air it out
Published 10:35 am Monday, September 18, 2023
Welcome to Four Down territory, where each week we recap four notes, nuggets or trends from the week that was in Mississippi high school football, college football and the NFL.
Cedrick Blackmore is not a flashy runner. He’s a stocky bruiser who is more likely to grind out yards than break long plays.
Blackmore, however, is quickly becoming the guy the Vicksburg Gators go to in the clutch.
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Blackmore scored on an 8-yard run with 43 seconds left to give the Gators a 26-20 victory over Terry on Friday. It was the second week in a row he has scored the game-winning touchdown, following a 10-yarder in overtime in a 38-32 victory over Natchez on Sept. 8.
Vicksburg coach Christopher Lacey said Blackmore has earned plenty of trust in key situations through his hard work and attitude.
“I got comfortable because he told me to get comfortable. He told me, ‘Coach, you’re getting too soft. I want the ball,’” Lacey said. “For a kid to tell you they want the ball, you’ve got to listen to him. They’re ready to play some football. He does what he needs to do, so we’re going to continue to feed him.”
Blackmore just missed his second consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 98 on 15 carries against Terry. He had another 8-yard touchdown earlier in the game as the Gators rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half.
For the season, Blackmore has 286 yards on 35 attempts, for a robust 8.2 yards per carry average. It’s a great start to the season for a player who missed all but one game in 2022 with a knee injury, and was often overshadowed on the depth chart by Vicksburg’s other outstanding backs.
“That joker has been motivated since (the injury) happened. Even though his leg was messed up he’ll still go in there and do the bench press, he’ll still do push-ups,” Lacey said. “He did what he needed to do this offseason to make himself ready for this season and that hard work is paying off for him.”
Warren Central is still using a quarterback-by-committee approach four games into the season, but might have found the guy who will eventually make the job his own.
Nash Morgan completed 14-of-20 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown in a 20-7 loss to Brandon on Friday. It was the best game of the freshman’s young career, and provided a spark to the Vikings after they fell behind 17-0 at halftime.
Morgan was 8-for-13 for 162 yards in the second half, with an 80-yard touchdown to Zack Evans on the first play. Evans caught five passes for 123 yards.
“Offensively, we put the ball in our playmakers’ hands and trusted Nash on some stuff. He did a good job, and that’s good to see,” said Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan, who is also Nash’s father.
Although he’s getting most of the snaps, Nash Morgan is not the only player taking them. Senior Ryan Nelson played two series against Brandon and is 3-of-9 passing for 12 yards this season. Junior Maddox Lynch, normally a receiver, is 3-for-4 for 114 yards and has been effective from the wildcat formation in short-yardage situations.
Running back Eric Collins Jr. even took a snap out of the wildcat against Brandon.
For the season, Nash Morgan is 37-of-57 passing for 409 yards and two touchdowns. He’s thrown just one interception.
“He’s getting better every week and that’s good to see,” Josh Morgan said. “For us to achieve our ultimate goal we’re going to have to do those kinds of things and be in those kinds of games. I’m proud of his progression.”
Quarterback John Wyatt Massey has been one of the drivers of Porter’s Chapel Academy’s 6-0 start, and he’s starting to approach some rare statistical air.
The senior has thrown 17 touchdown passes in the Eagles’ first six games, and only needs three more to become the eighth player in Warren County history to reach 20 in a season.
Massey also needs two more touchdowns to reach 30 for his high school career, which is a mark only 13 others have reached. Vicksburg High’s Ronnie Alexander, who has 29 career TDs, could also join that list soon.
Massey is completing 73.4 percent (47-of-64) of his passes this season for 776 yards, meaning more than a third of his completions have been touchdowns. He was 12-for-18 for 171 yards and two TDs in Friday’s 38-0 win over Park Place Christian Academy.
The most lopsided score of the college football weekend came from the West Coast, where FCS member Portland State crushed North American University of the NAIA 91-0 on Saturday.
Portland State scored all of its points in the first three quarters and only threw 12 passes. It had four scoring drives in the second quarter that started inside North American’s 20-yard line and scored 42 points in that period.
North American finished with minus-49 rushing yards and minus-23 yards of total offense, with only two first downs.
The 91 points were a record for a Big Sky Conference team, although not a school record. Portland State set the FCS record with a 105-0 win over Delaware State in 1980 and also defeated Cal Poly Pomona 93-7 that same season.
Oddly, Portland State has already been on the opposite side of a similarly one-sided beatdown this season. It lost 81-7 to No. 10 Oregon in the season opener on Sept. 2.