Ole Miss, USM could meet in Magnolia Bowl

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2001

Hanging out the football wash and wishing the season was stillgoing strong.

Since Ole Miss and Southern Miss both were bypassed when thefinal bowl invitations went out, why not have the Rebels and GoldenEagles clash in the Magnolia State Bowl. Jackson’s own MississippiVeterans Memorial Stadium would be a great location and a neutralsite, too. They could meet on Saturday, Dec. 22, at high noon. Witha stadium capacity of 62,000 plus, plenty of seats would beavailable.

Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson could be the official host. Playerscould visit the area hospitals, deliver presents to young and oldpatients alike and promote plenty of good will before Christmas.MCI WorldCom could provide the corporate sponsorship. Fan interestwould be extremely high.

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The game would feature two of the best quarterbacks in thestate. Sophomore Eli Manning, fresh from winning the ConerlyTrophy, would throw for Ole Miss. Senior Jeff Kelly, certainlydeserving to be on the final Conerly ballot, would call signals forUSM.

The game would provide plenty of excitement. Besides, it wouldkeep the football season going for a few more weeks.

Kelly broke many of the records held by USM grad Brett Favre.Eli broke many of his father’s (Archie) records this season.

Personally speaking, I believe both teams could put plenty ofpoints on the scoreboard. Whoever’s defense rises to the occasionwould determine the outcome.

The Mississippi Coliseum would be an ideal place to host apregame luncheon for both teams. Kentucky Fried Chicken andPopeye’s could cater the function. Sonny’s Barbecue would providean alternative main course. A tanker truck, parked outside, wouldpump iced tea to various indoor watering stations.

For desert, pecan pie and coconut pie, plus Mississippi Mud cakewould be available.

For entertainment, Charlie Pride could serenade the older folks.Tim McGraw and Faith Hill would appeal to the country music fans.Perhaps n’Sync could make a guest appearance during halftime andentertain the younger generation. All of those popular Mississippicasinos could form a combined front to absorb the entertainmentexpenses and pay for the fireworks display.

Sounds like a great idea. Problem is, Ole Miss won’t playSouthern.

Football coaches will tell you it’s a game of inches. In theClass 2A state championship game last Friday, Gulfport St. John wasdominating Ackerman. The Eagles were about to score and go up21-zip but a fumble happened and Ackerman’s Derrick Boyd returnedit 97 yards to paydirt, closing the deficit to 14-7 just beforehalftime.

Ackerman (14-1) wound up winning 20-14. Boyd, a senior widereceiver/defensive back, also caught two touchdown passes.

In Class 1A, Durant was expected to beat Pelahatchie in thetitle game. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they missed an extrapoint kick and eventually lost 21-20.

In Class 5A, Starkville produced the biggest upset of theweekend. Not only did the Yellowjackets beat Moss Point, theywhipped the Tigers decisively, winning 34-zip. To say the least,Moss Point’s players and fans were shocked by the shutout.

Bill Lee, an assistant coach at Moss Point for 19 years, tookover the Starkville helm last spring. Lee had helped coach MossPoint to five state championships during his time on the GulfCoast.

The Jackets used their blazing speed to topple Moss Point.Starkville wide receiver Tee Millons displayed his great talent,catching 6 passes for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns. QuarterbackDAngelo Dantzler looked impressive, throwing the ball to Millons,too.

Moss Point suffered six turnovers and was limited to three firstdowns and 79 yards total offense. Starkville is stout on defense,too.

In Class 4A, the South Pike Eagles were the local favorite withformer Brookhaven head coach Greg Wall directing the program. Wallhad coached at Brookhaven for five seasons before returning toSouth Pike where he coached the previous 25 years, winning twostate championships and finishing runner-up twice.

South Pike had to settle for runner-up again. Clarksdale flexedits defensive muscles and shut out the Eagles 13-0. In the firsthalf, the Wildcats limited South Pike to just 27 yards offense andno first downs.

Clarksdale, coached by Jesse Murphree, said he has 10 defensivestarters returning for next season so that means bad news in Class4A. Perhaps an offensive giant, plus some swift superstars, willstep forward and dethrone the Wildcats who have been to fivestraight state title games.

South Pike did maintain a strong tradition for this area.Lawrence County won the Class 4A title in 1999 and McComb marchedto the championship in 2000.

In Class 3A, Collins cruised past Corinth in the title test.Collins, coached by Bruce Merchant, had to forfeit its first twogames of the season due to an ineligible player. The Tigers (13-2)regrouped and finished strong, beating Corinth 28-14.