Wildcats drop opener, 27-26

By By Steve Swogetinsky/EMG staff writer
August 31, 2002
LAUREL Friday night's clash between the Laurel Golden Tornadoes and the Meridian High School Wildcats lived up to all standards attached to this old Big Eight Conference prep football rivalry as Laurel held on to a 27-26 victory in the season opener for both teams.
For Laurel coach Buddy Dukes, it was the best of times and worst of times.
In the first half, his team racked up 230 total yards and went ahead 24-0 by the intermission. But the third quarter was a disaster as star running John Moffett broke his left leg above the ankle on the fourth play of the half
and is probably lost for the season.
Moffett's injury, and the coming of age of the Meridian High School football team, turned the momentum as the Wildcats battled back to come within two yards of victory.
Laurel had 297 yards in total offense. The Tornadoes picked up 235 rushing yards on 44 carries, and competed three-of-11 passes for 62 markers.
Meridian, which had a 15-11 edge in first downs, finished the night with 238 total yards. The Wildcats had 105 yards on the ground on 23 carries, and completed seven of 21 passing attempts for 125 yards.
Laurel's first drive of the season covered 80 yards and took 15 plays. Quarterback Brett Jones put Laurel on the MHS seven-yard line as he rushed 22 yards on a keeper. A 10-yard penalty put Laurel back on its 19-yard line two plays later. But Meridian gave them five yards back on an offsides penalty. And junior Demorious Jones rambled 13 yards up the middle on the next play to put the Tornadoes on the MHS 1.
Moffett scored on the next play on a blast up the middle. Ben Beasley booted the extra point and Laurel led 7-0 with 3:48 left in the first quarter.
Kenny Horne picked off a Meridian pass after the ensuing kickoff, and the
Tornadoes took over on the MHS 35-yard line. Moffett rambled 29 yards to put
the ball on the MHS six. Three plays later, Jones scored on a one-yard keeper. Beasley kicked the extra point and Laurel led 14-0 with 10:54 left in the second quarter.
Laurel's Desmond Winder recovered a Meridian fumble to give the Tornadoes the ball on a MHS 13-yard line. This time the Tornadoes didn't go far in three downs and Beasley came on to boot a 24-yard field goal. With 8:50 left in the half, the Tornadoes led 17-0.
Laurel got the back on its 41-yard line to begin its final scoring drive of
the half. Brett Jones, Moffett and Demorious Jones put together back-to-back-to-back rushing gains of 16, 18 and 10 yards to push the Tornadoes down to the MHS 14-yard line. Moffett tacked on nine yards, and then Brett Jones scored on a five-yard keeper. Beasley was true with his extra point, and Laurel led 24-0 at the intermission.
The third quarter started off bad for Laurel, and got worse as time went on.
Meridian recovered the ball when Moffett went down with his injury, and
drove it in for the Wildcats' first score of the season under new head coach
Ed Stanley. Fred Patton scored on a five-yard run with 8:50 left in the third quarter to cap a 10-play, 46-yard drive. A bad snap to the holder end the Wildcats' chance at an extra point and Meridian trailed 24-6.
A Laurel fumble set up Meridian's next score as MHS took over on the Laurel 33-yard line. A seven-yard rush by Fred Patton and a penalty against Laurel put the Wildcats on the 15-yard line. Two plays later, big Quarius Hodges rammed his way into the endzone from seven yards out. Quarterback Ken Mitts passed to Patton for the two-point conversion and Meridian cut Laurel's lead 24-14 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Mitts passed to Jonathan Boyd for a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth
quarter. The extra point attempt failed and Laurel led 24-20 with 6:24 left
in the game.
Laurel took the ensuing kickoff and drove down to the Meridian High School
14-yard line. After running out of downs, Beasley came on to kick what would
be the winning field goal from 31 yards out as the Tornadoes went up 27-20
with 1:42 left on the clock.
One play after the kickoff, Mitts connected with D.J. Lloyd on an 80-yard
touchdown down pass play that brought the Wildcats within one point of the Tornadoes. Coach Ed Stanley opted to go for two and sent Hodges charged up
the middle, only to be stopped by the Tornado defense led by Corey Dorsey,
Trey Donaldson, Kendrick Smith and others.
Laurel took the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock for the victory.
was probably the best comeback that I have ever been associated with, and I'm proud of this team.
chance to win was to go for two. That was the right call, and I would do it again."
The Tornadoes will visit Hattiesburg next Friday night, while Meridian hosts
Starkville.

News

Miss RHS pageant takes place Friday

Franklin County

Political announcement: David Hester speaks about run for reelection as county commissioner

Franklin County

BTCPA auditions for final production of season take place March 3-4 

Franklin County

RCS holds annual Black History Month program 

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: American Legion Posts 64 and 120 – ‘Veterans Strengthening America’

Franklin County

RHS graduate crowned Miss Northwest Shoals

Franklin County

RHS graduate crowned Miss UNA

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: In memoriam – Monuments honor the fallen of Franklin

High School Sports

RHS senior chosen as Bryant-Jordan Region 8 Scholar winner

High School Sports

Russellville High School ladies soccer team members participate in annual Night to Shine

News

Russellville High School Scholars Bowl team qualifies for state tournament

News

Vina kindergarteners connect with lots of other classes

News

PCHS JAG student places in district conference

Features

Wedding Spotlight: Layne and Frank Edwards

Franklin County

RHS senior competes at state DYW competition

News

Extension, 4-H present free resume workshop

Franklin County

Franklin County has lots to love

High School Sports

Russellville High School honors alum Luther Tiggs with special night of basketball

News

BTCPA announces second production of season

News

RMS holds annual state assessment celebration

Franklin County

Red Bay welcomes new city attorney

Franklin County

Attempted traffic stop leads to high-speed vehicle pursuit, wreck 

Franklin County

Vehicle pursuit ends in wreck, arrest 

News

RFD, RHS collab promotes job readiness, community safety

x