War Eagles shut down Blue Devils in 37-13 rout
By Paul Keane
CARRIERE — A dominating defensive performance coupled with an efficient offensive attack led Wayne County High School’s varsity football team to a 37-13 win over Pearl River Central here Friday night in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The win ended the Blue Devils season at 11-2. WCHS improved to 10-3 and moves on to face Laurel in a rematch of the 5A South State Championship Game from last year. It marks the fourth time in two years the two schools have faced off, with all four contests being fought “between the bricks” at Blair Field.
“The State Championship goes through Laurel again this year,” WCHS Head Coach Todd Mangum said. “We’re heading over there on Friday night.”
The reason the War Eagles are heading to that rematch is because of a defensive effort that held PRC to more than 200 yards before its season average of rushing per game. The Blue Devils managed only 136 yards on the ground on 39 carries.
That effort was complimented by an efficient offensive attack that rolled up 295 yards on the ground and another 133 through the airways while not committing a turnover. Going into Friday night’s contest, the Blue Devils had turned the ball over only three times in 12 games, but ended up coughing it up three times alone in Friday night’s contest.
“Our defense played lights out, and our offense was efficient tonight,” Mangum said. “They had to work for everything they got on both sides of the ball.”
The War Eagles took control of things early, scoring two quick touchdowns in the first quarter and taking a 23-7 lead into the halftime locker room.
WCHS elected to receive to start the game and promptly marched 69 yards in 11 plays and 3:32, capping things off with a 1-yard run by Chris Cooley. The Brett Reynolds kick made it 7-0 with 8:28 left in the opening stanza.
The defense held and forced a punt that was partially blocked by Denzel Bonner before it sailed 11 yards, allowing the offense to set up shop at its own 29-yard line. Six plays later, Reggie Stewart hit RaMeik Wallace with a 35-yard touchdown strike, and the Reynolds kick opened up a 14-0 lead with 3:46 left in the first quarter of play.
The defense held again, but the offense went four plays and a punt. After WCHS held once again, the offense took over at midfield and needed only eight plays and 2:39 to cover the 50 yards, with the drive being capped off when Stewart hit Demetrius Harris with a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-0 with 8:31 left before the intermission.
On the very next play, TyRee Evans caused a fumble and then recovered it, allowing WCHS to take over at the PRC 35-yard line. The drive stalled before Reynolds came on to boot a 30-yard field goal to make it 23-0 with 7:03 left in the half.
The Blue Devils mounted their only real drive of the half on the ensuing series, marching 53 yards in eight plays before Austin Champagne cradled a pass from Wyatt Davis and turned it into a 20-yard scoring play. The extra point made it 23-7 with 3:18 left in the half.
At halftime, the War Eagles had held the Blue Devils to only 24 yards rushing on 16 carries.
The Blue Devils took the second half kickoff and steadily marched down to the WCHS 27-yard line. On a third-and-13, defensive lineman Benito Jones dropped back into coverage and made a great leaping interception, allowing the War Eagles to take over at their own 20-yard line.
“It was a zone blitz,” Mangum said with a chuckle. “I wish we could say that we called it, but we didn’t. That was just a great player making a great play.”
The turnover proved costly for the home team, as WCHS needed only six plays to march 80 yards before Freddy Jordan, Jr., scored on a 46-yard run. The Reynolds extra point made it 30-7 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
PRC answered with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that ate up only 3:39 off the clock. The drive was capped off when Christian Roberts scored on a 1-yard run. The two-point conversion pass failed, making it 30-13 with 11:04 left in the ballgame.
The War Eagles answered right back, marching 53 yards in 10 plays and 4:14, with all of the plays being of the running variety. Stewart plunged in from a yard out, and the Reynolds extra point set the final margin at 37-13.
The Blue Devils marched all the way down to the WCHS 7-yard line before Roy Arrington stepped in front of a pass in the end zone and returned it to the 47-yard line.
A holding call on the return moved the War Eagles back to their own 37-yard line, but Stewart hit Wallace with a 47-yard pass play on third-and-7 to move the ball down to the PRC 13-yard line. WCHS reached the 2-yard line before taking a knee on the final two plays to end the game.
WCHS 37, PEARL RIVER CENTRAL 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WCHS 14 9 7 7 — 37
PRC 0 7 0 6 — 13
WCHS — 8:28, Chris Cooley 1-yard run. Brett Reynolds kick.
WCHS — 3:46, RaMeik Wallace 35-yard pass from Reggie Stewart. Reynolds kick.
WCHS — 8:31, Demetrius Harris 13-yard pass from Stewart. Kick failed.
WCHS — 7:03, Reynolds 30-yard field goal.
PRC — 3:18, Austin Champagne 20-yard pass from Wyatt Davis. Kick good.
WCHS — 2:48, Freddy Jordan, Jr., 46-yard run. Reynolds kick.
PRC — 11:04, Christian Roberts 1-yard run. Pass failed.
WCHS — 6:48, Reggie Stewart 1-yard run. Reynolds kick.
FIRST DOWNS: WCHS 21, PRC 17
RUSHES-YARDS: WCHS 44-295, PRC 39-136
PASSES: WCHS 8-15-0, PRC 10-10-2
PASSING YARDS: WCHS 133, PRC 81
FUMBLES-LOST: WCHS 0-0, PRC 1-1
PENATLIES-YARDS: WCHS 12-74, PRC 2-10
PUNTS-AVERAGE: WCHS 2-30.0, PRC 3-24.0
RETURN YARDS: WCHS 1, PRC 95
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 8-of-11, PRC 5-of-11
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 0-of-0, PRC 1-of-3
TIME OF POSSESSION: WCHS 23:55, PRC 24:05
Freddy Jordan, Jr., 16-122, Reggie Stewart 12-91, Chris Cooley 8-43, Schadarius Chambers 6-29.
Reggie Stewart 8-15-0 133 yards.
RaMeik Wallace 2-82, Demetrius Harris 2-21, Will Mangum 2-18, Chauncey Carter 2-5.
TyRee Evans 14, Benito Jones 10, Tyler Hopkins 9, JaMarcus Fisher 9, Roy Arrington 8, Hunter James 6, Denzel Bonner 6, Quindarius Bivens 6, Clifton Jordan 3, Jabian Harris 2, Deon Smith 2, Kendrick Fuqua 2, Devin Washam 1, Jesqauvius Leggett 1, C.J. Chambers 1, Donte Williams 1.
Benito Jones 1.
Benito Jones 1, TyRee Evans 1.
TyRee Evans 1.
TyRee Evans 1.
Roy Arrington 1, Benito Jones 1.