War Eagles tame Meridian Wildcats, 14-3
By By Marty Stamper\The Meridian Star
September 29, 2001
WAYNESBORO – For almost the entire first half Friday night, the Wayne County War Eagles were bottled up by Meridian's defense. Thirteen plays produced just 31 yards offense.
The Wildcats made one huge mistake in special teams late in the first half and the War Eagles popped the cork off the bottle as they claimed a 14-3 victory in the Region 3-5A opener for both teams.
The loss dropped Meridian to 1-4. The last time the Cats got off to a 1-4 start was in 1975 en route to a 3-7 season. Not that they couldn't have had a better fate Friday.
Wayne County, 4-1, started at its 23, 13, 25, and 22 on its first four possessions. A muffed punt recovered by Wayne County's Joe Miller gave the War Eagles the ball at the Meridian 34 late in the first half and the hosts took full advantage.
Sophomore fullback Michael McLaughlin rumbled 19 yards up the middle on the next play. On third-and-3 at the 8, McLaughlin picked up three yards and a first down with only one second coming off the clock. Jerrod Sims then ran four yards to the 1 with quarterback Akeem Lofton scoring on the next play with 10 seconds left in the first half. Jonathan Sellers sent the War Eagles into halftime with a 7-3 lead with the extra point.
Meridian got 60 of its 91 first half yards on a 13-play drive that ended in a 26-yard field goal by Andrew Gambrell with 4:43 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cats drove from their 48 to the Wayne County 24 midway through the third quarter only to have Cardae Campbell stuffed for a three-yard loss by Dante' Baker on fourth-and-3 at the 24.
Following a recovery of a Sims fumble at midfield, the Cats moved to the War Eagle 37 where they punted on fourth-and-11.
Meridian could get only as far as the War Eagle 42 in the fourth quarter with Torry Bates losing a fumble following a 13-yard reception.
Meridian finished with 179 total yards with 131 coming on 49 rushes. Fred Patton led the Wildcats with 72 yards on 14 carries.
Wayne County had 142 total yards with 105 coming on 33 rushes. Lofton finished with 55 yards on 11 carries after picking up 62 yards on seven rushes after halftime.
The Wildcats host Brandon, while Wayne County hosts Hancock in next week's games.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234.