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High-scoring contest expected between Wildcats and Tigers

By Staff
TOP LEVEL ENCOURAGEMENT – Meridian High School head football coach Ed Stanley, hopes to have his Wildcats ready to end the season on a positive note tonight when they face Hattiesburg High School on the road. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Nov. 8, 2002
The numbers are mind boggling. Another shootout at Hattiesburg High appears imminent.
Meridian High School will take its crack at trying to contain the prolific passing combination of Hattiesburg quarterback Martin Hankins and wide receiver James Hollingsworth tonight at 7:30.
Hollingsworth, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, established a new single-game receptions and yardage state record in the Tigers' wild 42-40 loss at Brandon last week.
He caught an incredible 16 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Getting the ball there was Hankins, who finished the game 27-of-45 for 454 yards and five touchdowns.
Hankins, a three-year starter, has thrown for nearly 7,300 yards in his career. For the season, he is 146-of-277 for 2,795 yards and 23 touchdowns. The Brandon game was his second 400-yard passing game this season.
Hollingsworth, who can use his size and strength to overwhelm defenders, has 69 catches this season for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The good news for the Wildcats, who enter the game out of the playoffs with a 3-7 mark, is Hattiesburg's porous defense. The Tigers allowed 55 points to Oak Grove and 42 to Brandon.
Meridian was trailing Oak Grove 34-13 last week before rallying with a pair of touchdowns to make it 34-27 at the end. Quarterback Ken Mitts went over the 100-yard mark for the second straight game for the Wildcats.
Mitts has thrown for 902 yards off 74-of-163 passing. D.J. Lloyd, Courtney Lynch and Keith Ivy are the top receivers.
Hattiesburg, 4-2 in Region 2-5A and 4-6 overall, can get a home playoff by beating Meridian and then get some help. The Tigers need to finish in a three-way tie for second with Oak Grove (5-1, 9-1) and Brandon (4-2, 7-3). Brandon is at Wayne County this week.
If the league's form holds, Hattiesburg will likely be third with a win or fourth with a loss.
Stanley just wants his team to show another strong effort.
Wildcats playing in their final game for Meridian are: Lynch, Ivy, Moore, Leslie Rush, Brandon Haynes, Lamarace Tucker, Fred Patton, Lloyd, Orion Carson, Kellen Lane, Quarius Hodges, Daniel Dixon, Chris Kitchens, Print Woodward, Anthony Pippen, Ryan Kimbrough, Perry McNeal, Curtis Lewis, William Ledbetter, Justin Jordan, Brennan Vaughn, Tyler Ethridge, Matt Bowman and Malcom Martin.