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Meridian pulls out win in second half

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Sept. 15, 2001
LOUISVILLE – Once Meridian and Louisville got into the flow Friday night, they turned in a pretty decent performance at R.E. Hinze Stadium with the Wildcats taking a 21-13 victory.
Both traditional powers entered the contest with uncharacteristic 0-2 records and showed why in the early going.
Louisville shut Meridian down completely in the first quarter as the M-Cats managed just 12 yards on six plays. Louisville fared only a little better as 16 plays netted 54 yards.
The first six minutes of the second quarter was even worse as evidenced by a six-play sequence that saw four turnovers, two by each team.
Louisville quarterback Anthony Stanford fumbled at his 30 with Meridian quarterback Ken Mitts returning the favor on the next play when his pass was picked off by Derrell Ashford at the Louisville 2.
Stanford fumbled on the next two plays with Meridian recovering the second bobble at the LHS 2.
After a 2-yard loss on first down, Meridian's Fred Patton coughed the ball up on second down.
Meridian reclaimed possession at the LHS 32 following a 21-yard punt by Stanford. MHS then got its first first down of the game on a third down pass interference penalty. Patton capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:34 to go before halftime. Leslie Rush's extra point gave Meridian a 7-0 lead.
That lead lasted all of 19 seconds as Louisville's Leron Yarbrough mishandled the kickoff, picked it up at the 4, then motored 96 yards for a touchdown. Ben Clark's PAT knotted the game at 7-7.
Meridian responded with a four-play, 67-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 41-yard burst up the middle by David Fielder and a 22-yard scoring toss from Mitts to Torry Bates. Rush added the extra point to put Meridian up 14-7 with 2:58 to go before halftime.
Meridian had 101 total yards at halftime with 79 coming on the ground. Louisville had 65 total yards with 53 coming on the ground.
Meridian's defense kicked it up a notch in the second half, allowing only 47 total yards. On offense, Meridian gained 169 total yards after halftime.
Neither team added any points in the third quarter.
Louisville pulled to within 14-13 with 8:52 to play when Stanford connected with David Schwanebeck on a 15-yard scoring toss following a recovery of a muffed punt by Pierre Henderson at the Meridian 15. A personal foul penalty put the ball at the 8.
The chance for a tie went by the wayside as a low snap prevented Clark's kick from getting off the ground.
Meridian responded with a six-play scoring drive that covered 70 yards. Cardae Campbell's 43-yard romp to the LHS 4 highlighted the drive. Rush's PAT gave the M-Cats an eight-point lead at 21-13.
Louisville got to the Meridian 30 on its next possession only to have three incompletions end the drive.
On Louisville's final series, three straight sacks of Stanford forced Louisville to punt from its end zone with just under a minute remaining as Meridian, 1-2, ran out the clock.
Campbell led Meridian's offense with 123 yards on 13 carries. Fielder gained 61 yards on nine rushes. Mitts was 2-of-10 passing for 57 yards with two interceptions.
Stanford completed 4-of-15 passes for 64 yards with one interception.
Meridian hosts Tupelo next Friday with Louisville, 0-3, opening Region 2-4A play at Aberdeen.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at or call him at 693-1551 ext. 3234.