Wildcats shut out Panthers
GRIDIRON COMPETITION – Meridian's Fred Patton (22) dodges the reach of Petal's Leslie Brown (5). Meridian defeated Petal, 28-0. PHOTO BY CARISA MCCAIN / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Austin Bishop/EMG regional sports director
October 26, 2002
Mix a pumped up team with a big play early and you usually get something good.
That's exactly what happened for the Meridian High School Wildcats on Friday night, as MHS' Thomas Smith scooped up a Petal fumble on the first play from scrimmage and ran untouched for an eight-yard touchdown just eight seconds into the game.
The Wildcats went on to establish a potent running attack and dominate the game defensively on the way to a convincing 28-0 Region 3-5A win at Ray Stadium.
Stanley was quick to agree that scoring a touchdown within the first 10 seconds of the game certainly helped spark that emotion.
The fumble came on a busted play, as Petal was starting from its own 20 after Andrew Gambrell booted the opening kickoff into the endzone for a safety.
The snap eluded the quarterback, hitting the ground at about the 12 yard line and beginning to bobble and bounce toward the goal. Smith picked it up on the dead run and raced into the end zone. Gambrell's kick made it 7-0.
While Stanley was happy with the early lead, he was also pleased with the way his team began to jell offensively.
The Wildcats rushed for 250 yards on the night, including 95 from hard-running De'Angelo Jones on 12 carries.
Meridian, now 3-6 overall and 2-3 in league play remains alive for one of the four Region 3-5A playoff spots. MHSp lays host to 8-1 Oak Grove for Homecoming Friday night.
Meridian, now winners of two straight, stretched its lead to 14-0 with 7:51 left in the first half when Jones scored on a 9-yard run and Gambrell booted the point after.
The drive covered 47 yards on seven plays, with Jones breaking off a 35-yard run to highlight the scoring march.
It looked like Petal may move down to score just before the half, but MHS defensive back Leslie Rush came up with a big interception to give the Wildcats the ball at their own 40 yard line with less than a minute to play.
Instead of just running out the clock and taking a two-touchdown lead into the half, Meridian decided to go for the kill.
On the next play halfback Cordae Campbell took the pitch on what looked like a sweep to the right, but stood up and hit Keith Ivy with a pass that the speedy receiver took 56 yards down to the four-yard line.
On the next play Fred Patton bulled in behind strong blocking from the offensive line for the 4-yard touchdown run. Gambrell's kick made it 21-0 with 18.4 seconds left in the half.
The Wildcats attempted two halfback passes, then pulled off a beautiful reverse that set up MHS' final touchdown.
After recovering a fumble at its own 15-yard line, Meridian drove the ball 85 yards to score on a 3-yard run by Fred Patton with 4:10 to play in the game. Gambrell's kick made it 28-0.
Jones had a huge 33-yard run in the drive, but the excitement came on a 37-yard run by D.J. Lloyd on a reverse.
Meridian held Petal to 158 yards of total offense, with only 10 of those coming in the first half.
Petal falls to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in league play.