Third-quarter fight, off-field incident at Vicksburg homecoming; game called in third quarter

Published 9:18 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

A fight on the field brought an early end to Friday’s homecoming game between Vicksburg High and Yazoo City, and another fight off it caused a panic in the stands.

The fight on the field occurred at the end of a 45-yard interception return by Vicksburg’s Michael Johnson midway through the third quarter.

After Johnson was tackled by his face mask near the 10-yard line the incident quickly escalated to involve a number of players from both teams. Five players from Vicksburg and an unknown number from Yazoo City were ejected.

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A number of VHS players also left the bench area — the fight occurred on the Gators’ side of the field — which could subject them to further discipline.

With Vicksburg ahead 35-0, Yazoo City head coach Justin Washington requested the game be called with 5:07 left in the third quarter to avoid any further incidents. It was unclear whether the game was ruled a forfeit, a no contest, or if Vicksburg was the winner.

An ejection carries with it an automatic suspension for Vicksburg’s next game, which is on Oct. 6 against Neshoba Central. The team has an open date next week.

Vicksburg head coach Christopher Lacey said he was disappointed in his players’ behavior.

“We had an interception, we run it down, emotions were high, people were jumping around celebrating, all that type of stuff. I looked down and a fight breaks out. We shouldn’t act like that. We shouldn’t clear the sideline. Let the coaches deal with that,” Lacey said.

The fight between the teams was not the only one, however.

As fans were leaving Memorial Stadium, panic ensued due to a reported fight near the entrance on the home side along Lee Street. Fans ran through the bleachers as they tried to escape a dangerous situation.

A fight was also broken up near the VHS band hall, which is located about 200 yards from the stadium across Lee Street. No injuries were reported.

Vicksburg Police Department chief Penny Jones said officers responded to two separate postgame fights and arrested one individual. It did not appear that the fight between the players and the ones outside the stadium were connected.

“Juveniles were fighting outside the gate,” Jones said, citing the shift supervisor. “A (juvenile) was arrested for fighting and others fled. Marijuana was recovered off of the arrested juvenile.”

The sudden and bizarre ending occurred just moments after Vicksburg High crowned its homecoming queen, Aiji Rader, during a halftime ceremony. A homecoming dance scheduled for after the game was canceled. It has been rescheduled for Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in the VHS gym.

“It was a good night, homecoming, we were playing a good game … it’s just unacceptable. We’ve got to be better. It is unacceptable how all this unfolded,” Lacey said. “We haven’t had anything like that happen in five, six years. We’ve been doing a good job with the discipline. Even if somebody else sparks it, we’ve got to have enough composure to not do that. I’m just very disappointed in the whole situation. I don’t have any control over their team, but I’m very disappointed in my team.”

Vicksburg Post sports editor Ernest Bowker and managing editor Anna Guizerix contributed to this report.

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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