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franklin county times

Wildcats stumble in season finale

By By Tony Krausz
assistant sports editor
Meridian High School's football team couldn't overcome three lost fumbles, Northwest Rankin's trickery and deep passing threats on Friday night.
The No. 13 Cougars, who scored on a reverse on a kick-off return and two passes of more than 40 yards, claimed the District 3-5A title with a 30-14 win over the No. 3 Wildcats at Ray Stadium.
Northwest hit Meridian with a trick play and a big pass to take a 14-0 lead just three minutes and 15 seconds into the game.
Cougars running back Josh Brumfield returned the opening kickoff 95 yards, after getting the ball on a reverse from Stuart Davidson, to give Northwest at 7-0 lead 15 seconds into the game. Kevin Conerly converted the extra-point kick.
After Meridian High was forced to punt the ball after three plays, Northwest found the end zone again on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Moore to Michael McCoy. Conerly's second point-after of the night gave the Cougars a 14-0 lead with 8:46 left in the quarter.
Moore completed 5-of-17 passes for 155 yards, as the Wildcats struggled to defend against the deep pass with their top cornerback, Dominique Spinks, playing on a bad leg.
The Wildcats' defense was able to hold Northwest in check for the rest of the first half, while the offense struggled to find a rhythm.
Meridian High running back Cordera Eason, who rushed for 193 yards on 16 carries, finally got things going with 4:30 minutes left in the half.
The junior tailback broke free for a 42-yard run down to Northwest's 27-yard line late in the second quarter.
Meridian High running back Derrick Davis took over from there carrying the ball six straight times, scoring from four yards out on the final carry of the sequence.
Wildcats kicker Phillip Sullivan kicked the extra point to cut the Cougars' lead to 14-7 at halftime.
Eason tied the game 48 seconds into the second half, scoring on an 82-yard run.
The Wildcats forced the Cougars to go three and out on the next possession, but Meridian High lost its third fumble of the game with 4:38 left in the third quarter, after running 10 offensive plays.
Northwest wasted no time taking advantage of the turnover, as Moore hit Davidson for an 80-yard touchdown two plays after getting the ball away from Meridian High.
Conerly connected on the extra-point kick and the Cougars took a 21-14 lead, which they wouldn't relinquish.
Conerly increased Northwest's lead to 24-14 with a 40-yard field goal with 7:40 left in the game, and running back Stephen Wright, who had to sit out the first half because of last week's ejection, scored on a 13-yard run with 37 seconds to play. The extra-point attempt failed.
Meridian High outgained Northwest 369-170, but the Wildcats fumbled the ball five times, losing three. All three of Meridian High's lost fumbles were inside Northwest's 25-yard line.
The Wildcats host Biloxi in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs on Friday.

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