Eason's return carries Wildcats
By By Ryan Satcher/staff writer
November 8, 2003
Cordera Eason put a dagger in the heart of Northwest Rankin on Friday night with one big play.
The sophomore running back caught a kickoff at the goal-line and took it to the house to help Meridian secure a 24-19 win over the Cougars.
With the win, the Wildcats secure third place in the district and move to 7-4 for the season.
Meridian used a few key turnovers to work with a short field in the first half. An interception and a fumble recovery set up two Wildcat scores.
MHS got on the board first in the first quarter after an interception by Thomas Smith. The interception gave the Wildcats the ball at the Cougar 34-yard line.
Six plays later, Cordee Campbell bounced off a tackle and rumbled in from 11 yards out to give Meridian the lead. The extra point by Andrew Gambrell made the score 7-0 with 6:01 left in the first quarter.
Northwest Rankin responded with a big drive to put some points on the board.
Tyler Moore hit Tommie Whitten with a 28-yard pass on third-and-10 and Jeremy Bibbs followed with a 29-yard run to set up a 38-yard field goal by Ragan Walters to make the score 7-3.
The Cougars followed up the drive with another long drive in the second quarter. Northwest Rankin drove 62 yard in 14 plays and Walters hit a 41-yard field goal to make the score 7-6 with 5:22 left in the half.
The Wildcats came up with a big fumble recovery late in the first half as E.J. Hampton fell on the football to give MHS the ball on the Cougar 26.
The Wildcats drove down to the 3 before settling for a 21-yard field goal by Gambrell to make the score 10-6 at halftime.
Meridian added to the lead in the third quarter with a drive on its second possession of the half.
The Wildcats got a big first down on an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Cougars to keep the drive alive and took advantage of the mistake as Justin Baylor scored on a quarterback keeper with 1:28 left in the third quarter. Gambrell's PAT made the score 17-6.
The Cougars capitalized on a Meridian mistake to get back into the ball game. After a fumble, Moore hit Bibbs with a screen pass and Bibbs did the rest as he took off on a 51-yard touchdown reception. The two-point conversion came up a yard short and MHS held on to a 17-12 lead.
Eason followed with his huge 99-yard touchdown return on the kickoff and the Wildcats took back the momentum with the 24-12 lead.
Northwest Rankin was able to put the ball in the endzone with 1:22 left to play as Moore hit Stuart Davidson with a 26-yard touchdown pass, but Meridian's Jonathan Byrd fell on the ensuing onside kick and the Wildcats held on for the 24-19 win.
Campbell led the Wildcats on offense with 100 yards rushing while Bibbs led the Cougars with 75 yards on the ground.
Meridian will open the postseason on the road next Friday at St. Martin.