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Brandon escapes Meridian

By Staff
WE'VE GOT YOU n Brandon's Bobby Weakly is wrapped up by Meridian's Dominick Walker (30) and Lyndell Naylor (45) Friday night in prep football action at Ray Stadium. The Wildcats dropped a 16-14 to the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
September 6, 2001
For all intents and purposes, the Meridian High Wildcats beat the No. 1 team in Mississippi. But the final scoreboard said otherwise.
Top ranked Brandon escaped Ray Stadium with a 16-14 win when Andrew Gambrell's 41-yard kick was blocked with 17 seconds left. Gambrell had just a play earlier knuckle-balled a 46-yard kick through the uprights that should've put Meridian up 17-16.
But Brandon was called for an illegal substitution penalty which negated the good kick. Brandon was able to get its kick-block team on the field following the five-yard mark-off. It paid off because the second kick never got off the ground.
Meridian head coach Bill Sartin had a tear in his eye trying to console his Wildcats who left it on the field. The loss drops the club to 1-5 on the season and 0-2 in Region 2-5A play.
Brandon remained unbeaten at 6-0. They are 2-0 in region play.
The victory, however, may have come at a great cost. The state's top player, Brandon tailback Jerious Norwood, left the game with a knee injury early in the fourth quarter.
Norwood finished with 193 yards rushing on 21 carries. He had 136 yards at the half including touchdown runs of 16 and seven yards to stake Brandon to a 14-0 lead.
Meridian bounced back getting a 70-yard touchdown run by Cardae Campbell with 55 seconds left in the first quarter. Gambrell's kick made it 14-7.
The Wildcats punt team then made another costly mistake resulting in the team's fourth safety this season. A blown snap forced punter Matt Adkins to take the safety and put Brandon up 16-7 with 3:50 left in the half.
Brandon had a handful of chances to put the game away as rain began to fall. A brilliant 60-yard TD run by Norwood was called back because of a clip.
Later in the third quarter, Norwood broke loose on a 48-yard run to put the Bulldogs inside the Meridian 15. But on second down from the 12, Kyle Sephton's pass was intercepted by Meridian linebacker Lyndale Nailor.
With 10 minutes to go, Norwood left after hurting his knee following an nine-yard run. His loss would be felt on Brandon's next possession.
Brandon had stopped Meridian on a fourth-and-five on its own 46. But on the next play, Brandon's Ricado Smith fumbled with the Wildcats recovering at the 45.
Two plays later, Campbell ripped off a 32-yard run to the Brandon 15. He then put it in the end zone on a nine-yard run up the middle with 3:22 to left. Gambrell's kick made it 16-14.
The Wildcat defense rose up again stuffing the Bulldogs on three plays. Brandon helped out by throwing an incomplete pass on second down to stop the clock.
With 1:53 left, Meridian took over at its own 32. They immediately went to Campbell who tore off around the right end for a 33-yard gain to the Brandon 35.
Three more runs picked up six yards forcing a fourth-and-four at the 31. The Wildcats elected to go with the kick which Gambrell made setting off a premature celebration.
After the penalty, which most thought was off-sides, the Wildcats kicked again, this time from 41 yards. Brandon got a good surge up the middle to block the kick.
Campbell finished with a big night rushing for a career high 190 yards on 22 carries. Fred Patton added 33 yards. Ken Mitts was one of four passing for four yards.
Brandon had 284 yards in total offense with 265 coming on the ground.

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