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Meridian falls to Hancock

By Staff
TOUGH RUNNING Meridian's Cordae Campbell looks for an opening near the goal line against Hancock. The Wildcats lost the game 21-11 at Ray Stadium on Friday night. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Oct. 12, 2002
A punishing ground game by visiting Hancock High led the Hawks to a 21-11 win over Meridian High here Friday night at Ray Stadium.
Hancock got 111 yards and two touchdowns rushing from tailback Erwin Jackson to beat a mistake-prone Wildcat team. The loss drops Meridian to 1-6 on the season and 0-3 inside Region 2-5A play. Hancock moves back into playoff contention at 1-2 in the region and is now 4-3 overall.
While Meridian had a chance to at least put themselves in position to steal away a win, the Wildcats were still out-manned in the trenches. Then two costly fumbles late in the third quarter settled matters.
First-year Meridian head coach Ed Stanley gave a quick response to the game's difference.
Hancock head coach Ricky Gaudin said his Hawks came closer to playing a complete game for a change.
Hancock had no such problems pounding away a 15-play, 85-yard scoring drive on its opening possession following a Wildcat punt. The Hawks converted a pair of short, fourth down conversions to sustain the march which was capped on a 6-yard TD run by Jackson.
Chris Jones added the PAT kick with 1:21 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Meridian's problems with special teams reared its ugly head in the second quarter when a bobbled punt snap led to Hancock taking over at the Wildcat 46.
This time, the Hawks took the air route to cover the 46-yard distance. Facing a third-and-11, quarterback Brandon Necaise found Mylan Fairley in a seam for at least a first down. The play turned into a 36-yard TD pass when the two Wildcat defenders, cut each other off from making the tackle. Fairley slipped through into the endzone.
Jones' kick made it 14-0 with 5:30 left in the second quarter.
An interception by Leslie Rush helped give the Wildcats their first big break. His 28-yard return put the Wildcats at the Hawk 7. But three run plays and a motion penalty forced the Wildcats to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Andrew Gambrell. The kick made it 14-3 with 20.4 seconds left in the half.
Meridian's second golden opportunity came when Hancock botched a reverse off a punt return which Cody Warren recovered for the Wildcats at the Hawk 11.
Three runs by Cordae Campbell got the ball to the Hawk 2. But on fourth down, the exchange between quarterback Anthony Brown and back Kevin Moore didn't get made. The Hawks recovered at the five.
Meridian's defense backed the Hawks to their own 1 before forcing a punt. The short kick, though, glanced off a Wildcat and Hancock recovered at the 32. Figuratively speaking, Meridian would not recover.
The Hawks put the contest away with a 56-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Jackson's 5-yard TD run capped the 6-play march. Jones' kick made it 21-3 with 3:03 left in the game.
Wildcat quarterback Ken Mitts led a Meridian scoring drive in the final remaining time. He completed 5-of-7 passes for 53 yards to set up a 1-yard TD run by Fred Patton with 26.6 seconds left in the game.
Mitts then ran in the two-point conversion to account for the 21-11 final.
Hancock had 231 yards in total offense to Meridian's 148. Necaise was 3-of-8 for 43 yards.
Mitts was 6-of-11 for 71 yards. Campbell had 38 yards on 10 carries.