West Lowndes walked off the field Friday night with a dominant 26-3 win over French Camp Academy, putting itself in the driver’s seat in the Class 1A, Region 3 race.
But it took a while for the Panthers to pull away; in fact, it took a while for them to take a lead, as they went into halftime trailing 3-2.
Not that they didn’t have their chances. West Lowndes took 12 snaps from the French Camp 20-yard line or closer, yet couldn’t find the end zone.
“We wore them down, but we left a lot of points out there in the first half,” West Lowndes coach Anthony King said. “We left at least 21 points we should have had. It should have been 23-0, 23-3 maybe.”
Indirectly, the offense did help put points on the board. Fred Rice scrambled on fourth-and-goal from the FCA 10 and neared the end zone before being stopped at the 1. But French Camp’s Silas Hodge was stuffed on first down and driven back for safety on second down for the Panthers’ only points of the first half.
Oddly, West Lowndes took only two snaps in the red zone during the second half. Both resulted in scores, and Rice hit Marquez Shelton from 30 yards to account for the third touchdown.
The one constant in the two halves? Defense. King credited defensive coordinator Fredrick McGee for the plan that held French Camp to a mere 103 total yards of offense.
“He did a great job, and we shut them down perfectly,” King said. “Defense won this game tonight.”
— Tom Rysinski
End zone is that way
There are 48 minutes in a high school football game. For 47 minutes and 54 seconds Friday night, the Columbus offense could not find the end zone.
The Falcons’ defense has been outstanding most of the season, recording one shutout and holding two other opponents to six points apiece. But the offense has been a problem, averaging just 11.6 points and scoring more than 14 just once.
Against Lafayette on Friday night, the only scoring the Falcons had through three quarters was Michael Mosley’s 60-yard kickoff return after the Commodores took a 21-0 lead with 5:32 to go in the third.
The defense, not surprisingly, kept Lafayette from scoring another point the rest of the way, but the offense needed almost every one of the 1,052 seconds remaining to put up points. Again, it was Mosley, this time on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Omari Williams with 6 seconds left in the game.
With three of the four teams left on the schedule ahead of them in the region, the Falcons (3-4, 2-1 Class 5A-1) will need to get the offense going if they hope to make the postseason for the first time since 2016.
— Tanner Marlar
District races heating up
Speaking of the postseason, with Week 9 coming up the MHSAA playoff picture is beginning to come into focus. And while it’s too early to use ink, it’s not too early to take a look on where teams stand.
While Starkville is undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the AP Mississippi Top 10, the Yellow Jackets remain tied with Oxford for first place in Class 6A-1. Those teams meet in two weeks, after Starkville gets struggling Murrah this week. Also left for the Jackets are Germantown (3-4, 1-2) and Grenada (5-2, 1-2).
In the only district with more than one local team in it, West Point is in great shape in Class 5A-1. Not only are the Green Wave the only undefeated team after three region games, two of the teams are left on the slate are the Region 1’s two winless teams: Greenville and Saltillo. Lake Cormorant this week and Columbus in the finale complete the schedule.
As previously noted, the Falcons have a tougher slate. New Hope is 1-2 in the region, and while they will get Saltillo to close the season, their other three remaining opponents, Lafayette, Lake Cormorant and Cleveland Central, are ahead of them in the standings.
Over in 4A, Caledonia is one of the state’s best stories. While the Cavaliers have made the playoffs the past two years, they have not had a winning record since going 6-5 in 2004. They have six wins right now. A seventh Friday against Mooreville (2-5, 1-1 4A-1) would mark Caledonia’s highest win total since 1989.
The next week’s game against Itawamba Agricultural figures to decide the region title before the Cavs close with Shannon (2-5, 1-1).
The Cavs have never won a district title, and they never have won eight games in a season. They have a chance to do both.
Noxubee County’s game Friday with Amory should decide the 3A-4 title, while West Lowndes controls its own destiny in 1A-3.
— Tom Rysinski