No. 1 Durant upends Noxapater
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
NOXAPATER In the annual wars between Noxapater and Durant, it usually comes down to the battle in the trenches and a big play or two.
Friday night that trend held true in the second round of Class 1A playoffs as the Durant Tigers finally bent back the Noxapater defense in the fourth quarter en route to the 27-7 win in front of a frigid crowd at NHS.
The Durant ground game asserted itself in the second half as Detric Roberson bulled his way to 124 yards on 21 carries and most importantly, three scores.
It didn't however, take long to get control of the scoreboard.
The visiting Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field on the legs of Roberson. But it was a 63-yard catch and run by Baron Roundtree, who also tallied 62 yards on 13 carries, that got DHS in position for their first score of the night.
A 2-yard quarterback sneak by Jermaine Winters at the 8:36 mark of the first quarter, followed by the PAT kick by Elmorris Fletcher gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Noxapater answered back on the ensuing series when quarterback Ryan Smith engineered an eight-play, 84-yard drive that was capped off by a 32-yard touchdown jaunt by Derek Carter for the 7-7 tie after the Scott Shurden PAT.
The production was highlighted by passes of 21 and 16 yards to Corey Moore and J.E. Haynes, respectively.
Smith finished the night just 8-of-21 for 95 yards passing and a late interception that came off a tipped ball.
After a pair of punts by DHS, the homestanding Tigers (10-3) drove the ball down to the 5, but were thwarted by a tough goal line stand from Durant and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt from Super 12 selection Scott Shurden.
The kick was ruled wide right and the score remained tied.
Noxapater caught a break when Durant fumbled the ball on its next drive. The Tigers were unable to capitalize, however and were forced to punt. It was here that Roberson fielded and raced 88 yards to the house for the 13-7 lead that DHS would never relinquish.
The host Tigers rebounded again and were able to pound it out, getting down to the 13 after converting a key first down. But after a sack, NHS had to settle for another field goal attempt. Shurden's 32-yard boot was again ruled wide much to the disbelief of the NHS sideline.
That left the score at the break, 13-7.
In the third, both teams traded fumbles and defensive stands, but it was the larger line of DHS that slowly began to gain control, gradually moving the NHS offense backward.
The scoreless third gave way to DHS having the ball at its own 25 after another bad punt.
Again the 13-0 Tigers looked to Roberson who rambled 20 yards down to the 3, before getting in on the sweep play to boost the Durant margin to 19-7. Roundtree busted in from 2 yards out to convert the two-pointer and give DHS the commanding 21-7 lead with 11:56 to play.
But Noxapater couldn't get away from giving the visitors good field position all night long. After the Shurden punt was drilled out of bounds, Durant took over on the Noxapater 37.
From there, Durant ended the scoring with runs of 14 and 15 from Roundtree and Roberson, before Roberson added the final score of the night on an 8-yarder at the 11:00 mark of the fourth.
The final minutes were back and forth, as both teams traded turnovers in the biting cold.
Afterward, Noxapater head coach Jim Ray remained upbeat in the bleak atmosphere of finality.
Carter led NHS with a 107-yard effort on 21 totes and a score. Durant outgained Noxapater 250-229 in total yards.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.