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franklin county times

Meridian's 59-34 win came in odd way

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
October 4, 2004
Meridian High School's football team may have felt like it took a wrong turn on its 200-plus mile journey to Natchez last Friday and ended up in the middle of a Southwestern Athletic Conference game.
The run-based Wildcats' offense shot it out with the Bulldogs in a game that saw a combined 74 passing attempts from two teams.
"Was it 74?," asked Wildcats head coach Ed Stanley, whose fifth-ranked team won 59-34. "No wonder it was midnight getting out of there. There were a lot of passes and penalties. The game seemed like it lasted for hours."
Meridian High quarterback Justin Baylor, who threw his first career touchdown pass against Hattiesburg on Sept. 24, attempted a career-high 22 passes in the win.
The junior signal-caller completed 16 passes for 211 yards, and he tossed three touchdowns to three different receivers. Tight end Matt DeWeese caught a six-yard scoring pass; wide receiver Jonathan Byrd hauled in a 22-yard touchdown toss; and wide receiver Anthony Brown caught an 18-yard touchdown.
Of course, Meridian High didn't completely abandon its running game against Natchez. The Wildcats carried the ball 31 times for 141 yards.
Meridian High junior back Derrick Davis led the rushing attack with 55 yards and one touchdown. Wildcats junior running back Cordera Eason tallied 40 yards on nine carries, and sophomore Desmond Lloyd carried the ball four times for 45 yards and two touchdowns.
"We've been working hard, and it seemed like our passing game came together," said Stanley, whose team improved to 4-0-1 overall and 2-0 in District 3-5A. "It sure looked good the other night."
Stanley said the best part of his team's offensive attack against Natchez was the near undetectable difference between when the Wildcats attempted a running or passing play.
Baylor threw on the move the entire game, utilizing play-action, bootlegs and various rollouts.
"We think there is a little more flexibility for (Baylor) outside of the pocket," Stanley said. "With his height (5-foot-11), he sometimes has a little bit of trouble seeing over the guys."
Baylor's mobile throwing also allows the offensive line to block within the same scheme throughout most of the game.
"The bootleg goes very well with our zone running game," Stanley said. "We want it to look the same each time. When we run it we want it to look like we are going to pass, and when we pass we want it to look like we are going to run it."
Meridian High will need to continue to build on its more balanced offensive attack in its next two games.
The Wildcats host No. 11 Picayune on Friday in the team's homecoming game, and Oak Grove comes to Ray Stadium on Oct. 15.
"We have a big game coming up against Picayune, and we just need to stay focused," Stanley said.

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