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War Eagles sputter out of gate in season-opening loss
By Paul Keane
WCHS Head Football Coach Todd Mangum and his staff have plenty to work on with their team this week after a 17-7 season-opening loss at home to Oak Grove.
The War Eagles face Quitman on the road Friday night in a non-district game.
WCHS struggled offensively and gave up two big plays in the second half that spelled the difference in the loss. It marks the fourth year in a row WCHS has lost its season opener.
"The bottom line is that we've got to stop them on defense and we need to move the ball a little more consistently on offense," Mangum said. "Defensively, we can't give up the big plays.
"But you put this one behind us. It's over and it ain't coming back. We've got to learn from our mistakes and be a better football team next week."
The War Eagles struggled offensively, gaining only 64 total yards — 25 on the ground off 34 carries and 39 through the airways — and punted 10 times. The only points of the night for WCHS came from a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown by Reggie Stewart with 10:36 left in the first half. That made it 7-0 WCHS at the intermission.
The defense played well, but spent far too much time on the field, allowing the Warriors to use two big pass plays to pull ahead and later secure the victory.
The two defenses dominated in the early going as the WCHS offense sputtered and Oak Grove moved the ball only to see drives stall. A 3-yard punt by the Warriors allowed the War Eagles to set up shop at the Oak Grove 46, but the drive stalled at the 11-yard line when a fourth-down run fell 3 yards shy of the first-down marker.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and Stewart fielded the punt and weaved his way down field before hitting pay dirt. The Brandon McCary kick made it 7-0 with 10:36 left in the first half.
From there, the two teams basically traded punts, with the WCHS defense holding the Warriors on two fourth-down plays to turn the ball back over to the offense.
At the intermission, WCHS had recorded 28 offensive snaps to Oak Grove's 39.
The War Eagles had a chance to pad their lead at the start of the third quarter. The opening drive stalled, but DeAndre Gandy recovered a muffed punt, allowing the offense to retain possession near midfield. The drive stalled, though, forcing a punt.
Midway through the third quarter, Jamal Powe recovered an Oak Grove fumble, allowing the offense to set up at the OGHS 49-yard line, but, again, the drive stalled and a punt was in order.
It took only four plays after that punt before Cam Myers hit Keenan Harper with a 62-yard touchdown pass. The Watts kick knotted things up at 7-7 with 2:00 to go in the third stanza.
Again the offense couldn't move the ball, calling for another punt, and the Warriors took over at their own 26-yard line. Five plays later — including a 53-yard pass play — Myers hit Harper again, this time with a 30-yard touchdown strike on third down that opened up a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing drive, things stalled out again, but Javonta McCann recovered another muffed punt, allowing the offense to set up at the Oak Grove 32. Four plays later, a fourth-down pass fell incomplete, killing the scoring threat.
The gave the Warriors possession with 7:11 left in the game, and Oak Grove milked the clock down to the 1:36 mark before Watts hit a 32-yard field goal to ice the game at 17-7.
Freddie Jordan, Jr., returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Warriors' 41 yards line, but a sack and three incompletions thwarted the drive. From there, Oak Grove simply took a knee twice to end the contest.
For the night, Oak Grove rushed for only 39 yards on 27 carries but passed for another 309. The War Eagles were 3-of-17 on third-down attempts.
OAK GROVE 17, WCHS 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
OGHS 0 0 7 10 — 17
WCHS 0 7 0 0 — 7
WCHS — 10:36, Reggie Stewart 48-yard punt return. Brandon McCary kick.
OGHS — 2:00, Keenan Harper 62-yard pass from Cam Myers. Watts kick.
OGHS — 11:21, Harper 30-yard pass from Myers. Watts kick.
OGHS — 1:36, Watts 32-yard field goal.
FIRST DOWNS: WCHS 5, OGHS 17
RUSHES-YARDS: WCHS 34-25, OGHS 27-39
PASSES: WCHS 7-26-0, OGHS 21-40-
PASSING YARDS: WCHS 49, OGHS 309
FUMBLES-LOST: WCHS 2-1, OGHS 4-3
PENALTIES-YARDS: WCHS 7-47, OGHS 9-65
PUNTS-AVERAGE: WCHS 10-30.7, OGHS 6-35.2
RETURN YARDS: WCHS 129, OGHS 24
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 3-of-17, OGHS 6-of-16
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 1-of-4, OGHS 0-of-2
TIME OF POSSESSION: WCHS 22:57, OGHS 25:03
Freddie Jordan, Jr., 16-41, D.J. Cameron 7-6, Cadarius Pannell 1-5, DeCarlos Walker 1-3, David Hodo 9-(-30).
David Hodo 7-25-0 49 yards, Reggie Stewart 0-1-0 0 yards.
Rameik Wallace 1-16, Dashon Philon 4-30, Reggie Stewart 1-5, Javonta McCann 1-(-2).
Jamal Powe 11, Denzel Bonner 9, Tramond Lofton 8, Jacquan White 5, Benito Jones 4, Cadarius Pannell 4, Tyler Hopkins 4, Chandler Pugh 4, DeAndre Gandy 3, Quindarius Bivens 3, Hunter James 3, Roy Arrington 3, Quinten Hogan 3, DeCarlos Walker 2, Devin Paicely-Smith 2, Clifton Jordan 2, Javonta McCann 1, Jefferius McFarland 1, Jabien Harris 1.
Benito Jones 2, Chandler Pugh 2, Denzel Bonner 1, Jefferius McFarland 1, Quindarius Bivens 1.
Clifton Jordan 1.
Jamal Powe 1, DeAndre Gandy 1, Javonta McCann 1.
Roy Arrington 1, Cadarius Pannell 1, Denzel Bonner 1.
Rebels prove to be too much for Jaguars
By Sean Dunlap
HEIDELBERG -- For the Wayne Academy varsity football team, the watch word for both the offense and defense in the early going of the 2014 season has been execution.
That concept seemed to escape the Jaguars in a 58-19 road loss to long-time rival Heidelberg Academy on Friday night.
Coming into the game, WA Head Football Coach Sean Harrison said he was concerned about Heidelberg's speed and size -- two elements his opponents took advantage of in dominating the contest beginning in the second quarter.
"We couldn't finish our drives and that's on me," a dejected Harrison said following the ball game. "The effort now will be to go back to the drawing board and get ready for our next game. Our work will be to try to get things right (in terms of execution) for next week."
Despite the loss, Wayne had some solid numbers on the night offensively as the squad rushed 36 times for 201 yards with tailback Bubba Lewis leading the way with 21 totes for 137 yards -- the first time he has eclipsed the century mark this season on the ground.
In the passing department, the Jaguars struggled as starting quarterback Zach Hutchinson had a 4-17-1 performance for 26 yards. Quarterback Gunner West got the start in the second half and was 2-6-0 through the air for 36 yards. Wide receiver Braden Doss had the lion's share of catches on the night with four snares for 42 yards for the Jags.
On the other hand, Heidelberg rushed the football 25 times for 302 yards, was 2-5-0 passing for 76 yards and had 202 return yards in the contest.
Through the first quarter, it was a back-and-forth battle between the teams as Heidelberg came out of the gate with a three-play drive in the first minute of the game to score on 20-yard run by fullback Darion Milsap. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Rebels had jumped out to a 6-0 advantage over the Jaguars.
Wayne responded on its first offensive series of the night as the team moved from its own 35 to the end zone in 12 plays. Hutchinson capped the series with a three-yard run for the score with 7:24 remaining in the opening frame. Kicker Reed Wood split the uprights to put Wayne on top by a 7-6 margin.
Heidelberg scored again with 4:35 left in the first quarter as tailback Malik Porter rushed 67 yards on first down and 10 for the touchdown. Running back Marian Griffin punched in the two-point conversion on the ground to help the Rebels regain the lead, 14-7.
The second quarter belonged to Heidelberg as the Rebels scored on a 69-yard run from Milsap with 11:38 showing on the clock and then Porter raced 65 yards for a score with 3:54 left before intermission to build a 26-7 lead over the Jags.
Wayne Academy answered with 1:51 left in the half as Hutchinson called his own number on the quarterback keeper and raced 19 yards for the touchdown. The two-point conversion try failed, but the Jags had cut into Heidelberg's lead, 26-13.
Heidelberg went right back to work and responded with two more scores before the end of the half -- one of those a 50-yard special teams kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:11 showing on the clock and a one-yard run by Milsap with 22 seconds remaining before the mid-game break for a 38-13 lead going into the locker room.
The Rebels padded their lead in the third with a 37-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion with 8:12 remaining in the period for the 46-13 advantage. From there, Heidelberg scored again to start the fourth quarter on a 43-yard run and then hits pay dirt once more with 6:30 left to play on an eight-yard run.
Wayne was able to end the game on a positive note with a 26-yard touchdown pass from West to Doss as time expired.
The loss dropped Wayne to 1-1 on the season while Heidelberg improved to 2-0.
In the final tally, Wayne's Hutcherson carried the football seven times for 39 yards while tailback Garret Dixon rushed four times for 19 yards and West carried three times for four yards. Matt Landrum rushed once for a two-yard pickup.
Landrum had a pass reception for a 10 yard gain as did West.
SCORING BY QUARTER
WA 7 6 0 6 19
HA 14 24 8 12 58
HA -- 11:03, 20-yard run. Two-point conversion fails. HA 6, WA 0.
WA -- 7:24, Zach Hutchinson 3-yard touchdown run. Reed Wood PAT. WA 7, HA 6.
HA -- 4:35, 67-yard run. Two-point conversion run. HA 14, WA 7.
HA -- 11:38, 69-yard run. Two-point conversion fails. HA 20, WA 7.
HA -- 3:54, 65-yard run. Two-point conversion fails. HA 26, WA 7.
WA -- 1:51 Hutchinson 19-yard touchdown run. Two-point conversion fails. WA 13, HA 26.
HA -- 1:11 50-yard kickoff return for touchdown. Two-point conversion fails. HA 32, WA 13
HA --:22 1-yard run. Two-point conversion fails. HA 38, WA 13.
HA -- 8:12, 37-yard run. Two-point conversion run. HA 46, WA 13.
HA -- 11:46, 43-yard run. Two-point conversion fails. HA 52, WA 13.
HA -- 6:30, 8-yard run. PAT fails. HA 58, WA 13.
WA -- :00, Gunner West to Braden Doss 26 yard touchdown pass. WA 19, HA 58.
First Downs -- WA 14; HA 16
Rushes-Yards -- WA 36-201; HA 25-302
Passes -- WA 6-23-1; HA 2-5-0
Yards -- WA 62; HA 76
Fumbles-Lost -- WA 2-1; HA 0-0
Punts-Avg. -- WA 4-39; HA 1-42
Return Yards -- WA 96; HA 202
Third Down Conversions -- WA 2-9; HA 3-5
Fourth Down Conversions -- WA 2-4; HA 1-1
Time of Possession -- WA 25:24; HA 22:36
Rushing: Bubba Lewis, 21-137; Zach Hutchinson, 7-39; Garret Dixon, 4-19; Gunner West, 3-4; Matt Landrum, 1-2.
Passing: Zach Hutchinson, 4-17-1 for 26 yards; Gunner West, 2-6-0 for 36 yards.
Receiving: Braden Doss, 5-42; Matt Landrum, 1-10; Gunner West, 1-10.
Tackles: Cody Brewer, 6; Dakota Crager, 5; Kyle Sanderson, 3; Quasi Myers, 3; Jaymin Hudson, 3; Garret Dixon, 3; Cole Hutto, 2; Matt Landrum, 2; Braxton Philyaw, 1; Steven Keane, 1; Braden Doss, 1; Gunner West 1.