War Eagles down Mustangs
RUNNING THROUGH Wayne County's Drexler Johnson (15) cuts between two West Jones defenders to score for the War Eagles. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Dale McKee
EMG sports writer
WAYNESBORO The Wayne County War Eagles drove 91 yards in the fourth quarter Friday night before over 7,000 fans to claim a 15-14 win over West Jones to take the South State Class 4A title.
The win improved Wayne to 13-1 overall, and West Jones, tasting defeat for the first time, finished the season with a 13-1 mark.
Wayne County will play Oxford on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Jackson's Memorial Stadium. Oxford nipped Noxubee County 14-13 for the North State championship.
Wayne County, the defending Class 5A champion, faced an uphill struggle against the Mustangs. West Jones punter Britt Barefoot had pinned the War Eagles back on their nine-yard line, with 9:20 to play in the game.
Johnson, the freshman quarterback for Wayne County, was the key clog in the winning 13-play drive.
The Eagles first-year signal caller ran three times in the drive for 12 yards but was 3-of-4 passing for 52 yards. Johnson hit Gray, on a third-and-12 play from the WC 19-yard line, for 23 yards and a first down.
The War Eagles moved down to West Jones' 15 when Johnson hit Davis on a 19-yard pass play. On first down, Johnson ran for two yards and then gained five yards setting up and third and two from the Mustangs' 8-yard line. Jerrod Sims rambled up the middle behind fullback Michale McLaughlin and gained seven yards to the West one-yard line.
On the next play, McLaughlin bulled over from the one and Wayne led 15-14 with 3:16 to play.
Wayne County's defense limited West to only five yards on the next series. Wayne took over on the WJ 30-yard line and moved to the Mustangs' seven before running out the clock.
Wayne County opened the scoring by driving 92 yards in three plays to score with 5:28 to play in the first quarter. Johnson did the honors with a 10-yard run.
Johnson hit Gray on an 82-yard pass play to move the ball from the War Eagle nine to the WJ 9-yard line. Wayne missed on the extra point and led 6-0.
West answered with a 52-yard drive in five plays to go ahead 7-6, as Fernando Goldman scored on a 5-yard pass from Brett Hyatt. Barefoot then kicked the conversion, and WJ led with 11:55 to play in the opening half.
Wayne County moved 81 yards on 13 plays to score on a 22-yard field goal by Breck Mills with 1:25 to play in the half.
The big play was a 36-yard run by Sims moving the ball from the WC 39 to the WJ 25. Johnson then hit Davis on a 13-yard pass play on third-and-10 from the 25 yard line.
The Mustangs held Wayne to only seven yards in three plays forcing the field goal.
Wayne held West to only 57 yards of offense in the opening half while gaining 202 yards.
West took the lead late in the third period when Hyatt scored from the five yard line. The drive was 50 yards in six plays. Barefoot caught a 34-yard pass
from Hyatt moving the ball to the War Eagles' 15 yard line.
War Eagles defensive stars Steve Gandy and Ced Jones were very happy with the play of the Wayne County defense that held the Mustangs to only 144 yards of offense for the night.