MACON — The Central Academy football team had a difficult time on the scoreboard and on the injury report in its 2013 season opener.
Central Academy lost three starters to injury Friday in a 38-30 loss to Mt. Salus Christian School in Mississippi Association of Independent Schools eight-man action.
“I thought we played really well for the first game of the season,” Central Academy first-year coach Steve Ball said. “We lost some guys, but we kept battling, and I think that will be a very good trait moving forward. We were in a 14-14 tie and then we hit a rough stretch. But we were down some people and still scored with 14 seconds left in the game. I think that tells you a little about this team.”
Quarterback T.J. Coleman left the game with a shoulder injury. Lineman Steven Lane left the game with a slight knee sprain. Running back Lashaun Hill suffered a broken bone in his hand. Hill completed the game but had a rod inserted Saturday and will miss at least the next three weeks. Ball hopes to have Lane back for next week’s district opener at Strider Academy, while Coleman’s status is uncertain.
“We played well and gave a lot of good effort,” Ball said. “We just had some freakish things go against us. Offensively, we did a lot of things well. We were able to score on our first possession, and I thought that really helped the confidence of the kids a lot.”
Hall scored on swing passes of 60 and 40 yards. The junior finished with 160 all-purpose yards. Dalton Outz scored on a 20-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Russ Taylor also scored on an 8-yard run. Hall had each of the conversions.
The teams were tied at 14 midway through the second quarter. Strong offensive line by Mt. Salus gave the Eagles some separation.
“They had some really big boys up front,” Ball said. “I thought we did a great job of competing. We just weren’t able to have long drives and that put our defense in tough spots.”
n West Lowndes 28, Montgomery County 6: At Kilmichael, Eric Harris rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns, and Justin Stephenson was 13 of 20 for 191 yards and a touchdown Friday night to lead the Panthers past the Hornets in the season opener for both teams.
Anthony Liddell caught the touchdown pass from Stephenson, while Jevontrae Williams rushed for the other score.
“We played real poorly and lost two linebackers and two offensive linemen to injuries,” West Lowndes coach Anthony King said. “We played a lot of young guys who made some mistakes, but we came up with a win, and that’s all that counts.”
King praised the play of Stephenson for withstanding a lot of pressure and moving in and around the pocket to make things happen. He said senior linebacker Phytrell Williams was injured on the second play of the game. He hopes to have him back Friday when West Lowndes plays host to Heritage Academy. He praised the play of Tre Williams, who stepped in at middle linebacker after Phytrell Williams, who is Tre’s cousin, went down.
“Our defense did pretty good,” King said. “We gave up a late touchdown, but for the most part we played pretty good.”
Kendrick Sanders led the defense with eight tackles, two caused fumbles, and a sack. Tyzavious Harris had four tackles and a fumble recovery, and Dearia Douglas had six tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception. Douglas also rushed for 43 yards. Liddell also had a 40-yard punt return.
King said the Panthers will have to play much better and remain disciplined for their first meeting against the Patriots. King watched Heritage Academy beat Caledonia 35-14 on Thursday and came away impressed.
“We’re going to have to play assignment football and try to stay mistake-free,” King said.
n Lamar School 35, Starkville Academy 3: At Meridian, the Volunteers found few answers for the speed of the Raiders in the MAIS season opener for each school.
A 44-yard field goal by Johnathan Burton was the lone score for Starkville Academy. The kick came with 25 seconds left before halftime and brought the Volunteers within 21-3. Lamar School scored twice early in the second half to put the game away.
Starkville Academy finished with 209 yards of total offense. The Volunteers had 120 yards rushing, including 18 rushes for 89 yards from Grant Wolf and seven rushes for 26 yards from O’Shea Kemp. Quarterback Houston Clark was 5 of 21 for 26 yards in his first varsity start. He had two interceptions — the first of which was returned for a touchdown by Jackson Turner on the sixth play of the game. Logan Locke had two receptions for 13 yards.
Starkville Academy appeared to be driving for the game’s equalizer before Lamar forced a fumble on third-and-goal at its 5-yard line.
Danger avoided, the Raiders took that takeaway and converted it into a 14-0 lead when Lee Martin dove in from 1 yard out on fourth-and-goal.
Lamar School’s second pass interception set up an 8-yard touchdown march. Dylan Taylor punched it in from 1 yard out for a 21-0 advantage. Sophomore Sam Vaughn added two rushing scores in the second half.
The Raiders finished with 327 yards of total offense and overcame an injury to starting quarterback Brett Shafer. Freshman Davis Harrison was 11 of 22 pass for 116 yards.
For the Volunteers, Colt Crestman, Drake Gordman and Harper Arnold were the team’s leading tacklers. Kirby Cox also had an interception.
Starkville Academy will play host to East Rankin Academy on Friday night at J.E. Logan Field.