Heidelberg dominates Tri-County

By Staff
EYEING A CHAMPIONSHIP Heidelberg Academy running back Matt Windham runs for some of his 120 yards against Tri-County Academy Thursday at Mississippi College. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Robbie Robertson/The Meridian Star
CLINTON Dominating, punishing, bruising.
Any of those adjectives described Heidelberg Academy's 27-7 whipping of Tri-County Academy in the Mississippi Private School Association's Class A Championship game Thursday at a rain-soaked Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College.
Heidelberg finishes the season at 13-1 and captured the school's fourth state championship and the first since 1994.
Heidelberg Academy used a bruising rushing attack that churned out 345 yards of offense and 20 first downs to dominate a Tri-County defense that had posted three straight shutouts in the playoffs.
Senior Matt Windham ran for a punishing 120 yards on 25 carries while junior Heath Ainsworth had 115 yards on 27 carries.
While the Heidelberg offense was dominating, the defense was doing a number on the Tri-County offense as well. In the first half, Tri-County managed only 18 yards and one first down. Eleven of those were at the end of the half that also accounted for a first down. On the contest, Tri-County finished with 92 total yards, 59 coming on a long touchdown pass.
The HA Rebels set the tone early as they held Tri-County on three plays and forced a punt. After a short punt, Heidelberg set up at the Tri-County 41.
Behind the running of Windham and Ainsworth, Heidelberg easily moved down the field. Windham capped off the five-play drive with a 19-yard run at the 8:00 mark. The PAT failed and Heidelberg led 6-0 early.
After Tri-County went three and out again, Heidelberg strung together a 15-play drive that covered 75 yards and took 7:24 off the clock. Quarterback Derek McKee snuck in from a yard out with 10:23 left in the half. Ainsworth bulled in on the two-point conversion as Heidelberg took a 14-0 lead.
After another Tri-County three and out, the Heidelberg offense kicked into gear again. Starting at its own 49, Heidelberg churned down the field in methodical fashion.
Tri-County appeared to have stopped the Heidelberg drive as the HA offense faced a fourth-and-6 from the Tri-County 19. There, McKee hit Scott McInnis on a perfect fade pass in the right corner of the end zone with 3:20 left in the half. Windham booted the PAT as Heidelberg took a commanding 21-0 lead.
Heidelberg opened the second half the same way it did the first, dominating the line of scrimmage.
Once again, led by the bruising running of Windham and Ainsworth, the HA Rebels bulled their way down the field as the offense put together a 17-play, 71-yard drive. Ainsworth capped off the drive as he plowed in from 4 yards out with 3:13 left in the third. The PAT failed and Heidelberg led 27-0.
Tri-County got its only score midway through the fourth quarter as quarterback Bo Fisher hit Michael Saxton on an out that turned into a 59-yard scoring play with 8:05 left in the contest.
After trading punts, Heidelberg ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Robbie Robertson is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rrobertson@meridianstar.com.