Wildcats take down Hattiesburg
By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
September 27, 2003
Even domination doesn't explain to what the Meridian High School defense did to visiting Hattiesburg on Friday night.
The Wildcats (3-2, 1-0 Division 5-5A) forced three fumbles and limited the Tigers (2-3, 0-1 Division 5-5A) to 89 yards of offense in the first half en route to a 31-7 win at Ray Stadium in the two team's first division game of the year.
The Wildcats forced six turnovers in the game (five fumbles and one interception) and held the Tigers to 121 yards of total offense.
Meridian High forced Hattiesburg's first turnover midway through the opening quarter.
Tigers quarterback Jermaine Jackson coughed up the ball on his own 20-yard line, and the Wildcats recovered the loose ball.
Senior running back Cordea Campbell, who finished game with 95 yards on eight carries, scored the first points of the game on a 14-yard run four plays after the fumble recovery.
Meridian High forced another Hattiesburg fumble one-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter.
The Wildcats recovered Tiger running back Jonathan Kirksey's fumble at Hattiesburg's 24-yard line.
Meridian High senior kicker Andrew Gambrell converted a 39-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 10-0 lead, with 9:33 left in the first half.
The Wildcats forced another first half turnover with 17 seconds left in the opening half. Hampton sacked Jackson, after a snap went over his head, and forced the ball out of the quarterback's hands.
Wildcats defensive lineman Jeremy Campbell recovered the ball on the Tigers' 35, but Meridian High couldn't turn the takeaway into points.
Meridian High's only miscue in the opening 24 minutes of the game came after Gambrell's early second quarter field goal.
The senior was unable to kick the ball off because "he was not legally equipped," according to Stanley. Justin Kitchens stepped in and booted the ball to Hattiesburg's 11.
Kirksey, who was limited to nine yards, returned the ball 89 yards for the Tigers' lone score of the game. The return cut Meridian High's lead to 10-7, with 9:19 left in the first half.
The Wildcats quickly bit back, as Campbell returned the Tigers' kickoff 56 yards to Hattiesburg's 35-yard line.
Sophomore running back Cordera Eason, who carried the ball 13 times for 89 yards, scored on a delayed run one play after Campbell's return for a 17-7 lead, with 8:58 left in the first half.
Campbell scored his second touchdown of the game with 37 seconds left in the opening half. The 193-pound senior sprinted 58 yards down the left side of the field for a 24-7 lead at the break.
After a stellar first half, Meridian High's defense got into the scoring side of the game with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Smith jumped in front of Jackson's pass to wide receiver Marquis McFarland at the Tigers' 34-yard line. Smith ran the ball into the end zone to produce the Wildcats' margin of victory.
The Wildcats forced the Tigers to fumble the ball two more times at the Meridian High's one-yard line to keep Hattiesburg off the scoreboard in the second half.
The Wildcats continue the season against Natchez at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home. The contest will be Meridian High's homecoming game.