Wolves win season opener

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 10, 2001

WESSON – Tracy Barlow played larger than life Thursday night inStone Stadium. Barlow, standing 5-foot-7 and weighing 160 pounds,was the smallest player on the field, but he provided a giant-sizedboost. He returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown and sparked theCo-Lin Wolves to a 13-8 Thursday night win over the ItawambaCommunity College Indians in the season opener for bothschools.

Barlow’s return, plus some heroic pass defense, and a latetouchdown connection from freshman quarterback Willie Johnson towide receiver Josh Chapman, gave Co-Lin head coach Dave Cross asuccessful debut.

“Tracy is one of the best athletes on the field,” said Cross.”It’s hard to get hand on him. Our corners did a good job gettinghim free.”

Barlow said he was confident of taking the punt all the wayback. He received in Greg Mooneyham’s punt at midfield, circledback five yards, gathered some speed and headed for the endzone.

“I was looking for an open hole and I just tried to hit it,”said Barlow, standing behind the end zone after the game. “I gotsome good blocks so I knew I could take it all the way.”

In a defensive struggle last night, the Wolves limitedItawamba’s high-powered offense to 188 yards, with 148 of it comingthrough the air. All-state tailback Chourse Young was limited to 55yards rushing on 20 carries.

“We have a lot of offensive firepower but we didn’t get the jobdone tonight,” said ICC head coach Jay Miller. “That No. 4 (Barlow)has a lot of speed.”

Most importantly, Co-Lin cooled off Indian quarterback AndyJohnson by intercepting him four times. Odell Bradley accounted fortwo pass thefts. Aaron Pitts and Ken Bournes each had oneinterception.

Bournes, a sophomore linebacker from Monticello, said thedefense worked hard to stop Itawamba. :We have a lot of goodathletes on defense and they all came together at the end. The LordBlessed us and pulled us through.”

After Co-Lin quarterback Willie Johnson threw a 42-yard striketo Chapman on the slant pattern for a TD, Co-Lin led 13-8 with 3:03left in the game. A 2-point conversion run out of the Huddle Playwas short of the goal line.

The Indians got a sizzling 40-yard kickoff return from AaronKnowles and were in good shape at their 41-yard line with 2:49 leftto play. Andy Johnson hooked up with wide receiver Jermaine Dawsonfor 17 yards and a first down at Co-Lin’s 42. Johnson then threwfour incomplete passes before the Wolves took over and ran out thefinal 1:41.

Johnson (6-3, 205), a freshman from Brantley, Ala. completed 12of 24 passes for 148 yards and 1 TD. He was intercepted by Pittsand Bournes in the first half as the two teams battled to ascoreless deadlock.

In the third quarter, Itawamba was awarded a 2-point safety whenWillie Johnson was tackled in the end zone and the referee chargedhim with intentional grounding.

Itawamba led 2-0 until Barlow made his crowd-pleasing return.Jimbo Thornton kicked the extra point for a 7-2 Co-Lin lead and 44seconds left in the third quarter.

Bradley, a sophomore from Hermanville, intercepted his secondpass in the end zone as Johnson tried for a quick 6 points. Fiveminutes remained in the game but Co-Lin tailback Mike Wannamakerfumbled the pitchback on first down.

Co-Lin’s defense stood strong for 3 downs but Andy Johnson foundJones on a fourth-down slant pattern for the TD from 12 yards out.The conversion pass fell incomplete and the Indians held an 8-7lead with 3:50 left in the game.

Itawamba tried to pull off a surprise with an onsides kick butCo-Lin’s Lonnie Robertson alertly covered the football this 47.Push back by an illegal blocking penalty, the Wolves bounced backas Willie Johnson flipped a screen pass to Aaron Yarborough and thesophomore fullback rumbled 21 yards to the ICC 42-yard line.

On the next play, Johnson spotted Chapman on the slant for 42yards and the go-ahead TD.

“We have two good quarterbacks in Jeffrey Hobbs and WillieJohnson,” said Cross. “What they need is experience and confidence.Everything is new to them.”

Johnson completed 3 of 5 passes for 73 yards. Hobbs was 3 of 5for 14 yards.

Yarborough was Co-Lin’s leading rusher with 11 carries for 21yards. Darius Bingham had 4 rushes for 19 yards. Co-Lin accountedfor 91 rushing yards on 35 carries.