Loyd Star overwhelms Wesson

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 26, 2001

Loyd Star’s football team resembled a scarlet tide Friday night.Dressed in bright red uniforms, the Hornets overwhelmed Wesson’sCobras 35-7 in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs.They were powered by senior tailback Derrick Johnson who rushed for174 yards and 2 touchdowns on William E. “Sambo” Smith Field.

A record crowd, estimated at 3,500, watched the Hornets roar toa 21-0 halftime lead.

Loyd Star’s victory, avenging at 28-9 Oct. 12 loss to Wesson,placed the Hornets (11-2) in the South State championship gameFriday night at Gulfport St. John. The Eagles eliminatedTaylorsville 31-30 in double-overtime at Taylorsville.

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In the North 2A quarterfinals, Ackerman whipped East Webster40-6 and Ruleville Central beat Shelby Broad Street 20-7.

Johnson, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior, provided several bigplays Friday night. The biggest came in the fourth quarter afterWesson had pulled within 21-7 on a 2-yard touchdown plunge byRussell Robinson.

On third down at Loyd Star’s 23-yard line, Johnson took thehandoff from quarterback Cass Brister, cut to his left, broke atackle and raced 77-yards to the end zone, pushing Loyd Star ahead28-7.

“I told the line to make a good hole for me and I would go asfar as I could go,” said Johnson. “We wanted to beat them.”

Wesson (11-2) had secured the Region 6-2A title with the Octoberwin at Loyd Star. The Cobras had blasted two state playoffopponents, setting up the rematch. They were not at full speedFriday night.

Senior tailback Billy Ray Miller, Wesson’s leading rusher andtop tackler at linebacker, was slowed by a sprained right anklesuffered in last week’s win over Scott Central. Miller only carriedthe ball twice and limped off the field late in the second quarter,sitting out the second half.

Wesson head coach Ronald Greer said Miller’s injury was noexcuse for his team’s loss. Miller didn’t practice last week.

“Loyd Star was very physical and they laid the wood to us,” saidGreer. “We made the mistakes and they took it to us.”

To put it mildly, Loyd Star’s defense dominated. Wesson waslimited to just 4 first downs and 103 yards total offense.

Fullback/linebacker Adam Speeg scored a pair of Loyd Startouchdowns, the final TD going 21 yards. Jody Britt kicked hisfifth PAT and Loyd Star led 35-7 with 5:59 left in the game.

“It was a harder game than it looked,” said Speeg. “Our mainobjective was to jump on them early.”

In the previous encounter, Speeg had spent much of the game onthe sidelines, weakened by an upper respiratory infection.

In the first quarter, a high snap on fourth down sailed overWesson punter Emanuel Sinclair’s head. He was tackled for an11-yard loss at the Wesson 28.

Eight plays later, Speeg plunged the final yard over righttackle. Britt’s PAT put the Hornets up 7-0 with 4:47 left in thefirst quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Loyd Star quarterback Cass Bristerhooked up with wingback Josh Townsend for a 75-yard TD connectionwhich was tipped by a Wesson defender.

With 8:23 left in the first half, Johnson capped a 2-playscoring drive with a 2-yard dive, making it 21-0. The TD was set upwhen Demarcus Barnes intercepted a halfback pass thrown by Wesson’sMarcus Corley, returning it 20 yards to the Wesson 10.

The Cobras finally broke the ice early in the fourth quarter. Ahalfback pass from Richie Miller to Nick Gunter, off a reverse, wasgood for 64 yards to the Loyd Star 4-yard line. A 2-yard penaltyset up the scoring plunge by Robinson, making it 21-7.

Loyd Star’s final TD was set up when Corley was tackled for a7-yard loss on a fake punt. He was tackled at the Wesson 33 andSpeeg scored 3 plays later.

“This was a great game for our kids,” said Loyd Star head coachAnthony Hart. “We have some great fans and a great following.

“Our kids came out and played physical on defense,” Hartcontinued. “We have a good offensive line and they came off theball. They don’t get much recognition.”

Hart praised his assistant coaches. “Our coaches did a great jobpreparing the kids this week. I just want to thank God for theopportunity to coach these kids.”

On defense, linebacker Cody Covington led Loyd Star with 12tackles, including 5 solo stops. Townsend and Matthew Delaughterhad 9 tackles and Logan Portrey made 8. Jermaine Hunter and Johnsonhad 7 tackles.

Wesson got 14 tackles from defensive tackle Matt Dyess. JoshMcCormick and Robinson had 6 tackles.