Four Down Territory: Ladies’ Day in college football, milestones aplenty, and Brown makes his NFL debut

Published 2:26 pm Sunday, September 24, 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.

On the opening kickoff Saturday, Jackson State’s Leilani Armenta made history.

The freshman kicker becamethe first woman to ever play for Jackson State, when she put boot to ball for the opening kickoff of the Tigers’ 22-16 victory over Bethune-Cookman. She kicked off one other time, in the second quarter.

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Armenta is also a member of Jackson State’s soccer team. She was added to the football roster last week because of injuries at the kicker position.

Although she made history for Jackson State, Armenta is hardly new to football. She previously kicked for her high school football team, Saint Bonaventure in Ventura, California and was a three-year starter.

In her high school career, Armenta kicked off and made 98 of 105 PAT attempts and all five of her field goal attempts. Her longest field goal was a 29-yarder in 2020.

Armenta is believed to be the sixth woman to kick for an NCAA team, and first since Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller in 2020.

Another bit of women’s football history was made Saturday when Haley Van Voorhis became the first woman to appear in an NCAA game at a position other than kicker.

Van Voorhis, a 5-foot-6, 145-pound junior safety, registered a quarterback hurry in the first quarter of Division II Shenandoah’s 48-7 home win over Juniata.

Before Vicksburg High’s homecoming game against Yazoo City was called in the third quarter following a fight between the teams, several VHS players reached career statistical milestones.

Quarterback Ronnie Alexander threw two long touchdown passes to Tyler Henderson in the first half and finished 6-of-9 passing for 137 yards. That pushed him to 3,029 passing yards and 31 touchdowns for his high school career, both of which put him elite company.

Alexander is the 13th quarterback in Warren County history to reach 3,000 yards and the 14th to get to 30 touchdowns.

Henderson’s two touchdowns of 58 and 52 yards were his only receptions in the game, but moved him into fifth place on the county’s career receiving yardage list with 1,524.

Henderson also became only the fourth player to reach 20 receiving touchdowns. Vicksburg’s A.J. Stamps and Raheem Moore, with 29 and 25 respectively, and Porter’s Chapel Academy’s Cole Smith with 24 are also in that club. Henderson has 20 touchdowns in his career.

Running back Malik Montgomery, who had missed the previous two games with an injury, also returned to the lineup and scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter. It was the 30th rushing touchdown of his career, making him the 24th player to reach that milestone.

Vicksburg beat Yazoo City 35-0. The Gators have an open date this week, and will play Neshoba Central in their MHSAA Region 2-6A opener on Oct. 6.

Vicksburg High was not the only team to have a player reach a milestone Friday.

Porter’s Chapel Academy quarterback John Wyatt Massey was a perfect 8-for-8 passing for 196 yards and four touchdowns in a 58-6 rout of Tensas Academy.

Massey’s four touchdowns put his season total at 21, and his career total at 33. He is only the eighth quarterback to throw 20 or more touchdown passes in a season, and the first since Vicksburg’s Joe Johnson in 2016.

PCA’s single-season school record is 28 TDs, set by Hayden Hales in 2006. Its career record is held by Jonah Masterson, who had 41 from 2010-13.

Vicksburg native Ben Brown made his long-awaited NFL debut on Sunday.

Brown, a former St. Aloysius and Ole Miss star, was on the Seattle Seahawks’ active roster for their game against the Carolina Panthers and saw some playing time on the offensive line during the first half. He had been inactive for Seattle’s first two games, but a wave of injuries on the team’s offensive line opened the door for him to play in his first regular-season game.

Brown was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2022. He suffered a biceps injury during the preseason that year and missed the entire season after being placed on injured reserve. He played in all three of the Bengals’ preseason games this year, but was released at the end of training camp when NFL teams had to cut their rosters from 90 to 53 players.

The Seahawks quickly snatched up Brown and signed him to the practice squad a few days later. He was then promoted to the 53-man active roster before the season opener.

Brown is listed as the backup left guard on the Seahawks’ depth chart behind starter Damien Lewis.

For the second week in a row, a Mississippi State receiver set a school record.

Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin caught seven passes for 256 yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s 37-27 loss to South Carolina, to set the Bulldogs’ single-game receiving yardage record. He broke the mark of 220 yards that was set by Jameon Lewis in the 2013 Liberty Bowl against Rice.

Griffin had 205 yards in the first half, with receptions of 33, 65, 47 and 60 yards. The 65-yard catch was a touchdown. He broke Lewis’ record on a 30-yard reception in the third quarter.

“I didn’t even know I did that (until I was told after the game),” Griffin said. “I really didn’t know it.”

Last week, running back Jo’Quavious Marks became the school’s career receptions leader. Marks, a senior running back, added five more to his total against South Carolina and now has 205 receptions in 40 games. He also has 1,163 career receiving yards, which is the most ever for a Mississippi State running back.

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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