Wolves take down No. 1 Wildcats
WESSON — When Co-Lin sophomore running back Aaron Johns scoredan 84-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, you could smellan upset in the making. The Wolves didn’t disappoint.
Before a loud, enthusiastic crowd, Co-Lin marched to a 31-21South Division victory Thursday night in Stone Stadium over thenationally ranked No. 1 Pearl River Wildcats.
Co-Lin travels to Perkinston Saturday, Sept. 30, to meet theGulf Coast Bulldogs. The game begins at 2:30 p.m. Pearl River hostsEast Central Thursday.
Following the celebration after the game, portions of the southgoal posts were pulled to the ground by celebrating students.
“It was a good win for our program,” said Co-Lin head footballcoach Glenn Davis following the win. “It shows how hard the coachesand kids have worked. We have a lot of guys who are unselfish. Theymade it a team win.”
Pearl River lost starting quarterback Mike Greco to a collarbonebreak on the final play of the first half. Former wide receiverLarry Freeman replaced Greco in the second half.
Pearl River head coach Tim Hatton didn’t use the loss of Crecoas an excuse for the stunning loss.
“We got beat here by a very talented team,” said Hatten. “Co-Linmade the plays. They were determined. Now we’re playing for aplayoff spot.”
On the night, Co-Lin (3-1, 2-0) finished with 17 first downs and477 total offensive yards. Pearl River (3-1, 1-1) led with 19 firstdowns and followed with 354 offensive yards.
“Pearl River has a tremendous football program,” stated Davis.”We made it a physical ball game.”
Sophomore quarterback Cedric Johnson sparked the Co-Lin offense.Johnson completed 8 of 23 passes for 160 yards and rushed thefootball 11 times for 50 yards.
“It feels great,” said a happy Johnson after the win. “I feelgreat. I think I played my best game tonight. Big time players stepup in big games.”
Johns, a 5-10, 190-pound sophomore from Thomasville, Ala.,powered the Wolves’ running game with 14 carries for 188 yards andscored three touchdowns. Jeremy Bibbs rushed for 79 yards on 15carries.
“I can’t say enough about how our defense played,” added Davis.”We held their leading rusher (Seth Hayden) to under 20points.”
Quick guard Zach Ray, a 6-3, 305-pound sophomore fromBrookhaven, felt Pearl River did not respect the Wolves. “PearlRiver didn’t show us any respect. We controlled them on both sidesof the ball. The battle was won in the trenches.”
Defensive end Raven Gray, a 6-4, 275-pound freshman fromEnterprise, Ala., credited the win to the team. Gray had twoquarterback sacks in the second half resulting in 7-and 5-yardlosses.
“It was a team effort,” said Gray. “We all pulled together.”
Sophomore kicker Nick Gunter of Wesson was instrumental in thewin, kicking four PATs and a 26-yard field goal.
“I feel really good,” said Gunter. “It was a big win for theteam. I am thankful for the Good Lord giving us the ability to beatthem. We played really good.”
Following Johns’ first touchdown and Gunter’s PAT, Co-Lin scoredon its second possession of the game. The Wolves marched 63 yardsin 11 plays to set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Johnson tosophomore wide receiver Bud Chatman for the 14-0 lead with sevenminutes left in the first quarter.
Pearl River responded on its next possession and punched inseven points to cut the Co-Lin lead to 14-7 at the 4:14 mark. TheWildcats ran seven plays and drove 74 yards, scoring on a two-yardplunge over the goal line by Greco.
The Wolves scored their third TD of the game at the 3:55 mark inthe second quarter for a 21-7 lead over the Wildcats. Driving 61yards in six plays, Johnson ran over right tackle for the one-yardscore.
Gunter kicked his field goal with two seconds left in the firsthalf to push Co-Lin’s lead to 24-7 over Pearl River.
Near the end of the third quarter, Pearl River produced a10-play, 61-yard march to the Co-Lin 19-yard line. Following bigloss for yards on the next play, placekicker Brad Bingham missed a43-yard field goal attempt with 1:03 on the clock.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats took a 12-play, 64-yarddrive to score on a three-yard run over left tackle by sophomorerunning back Seth Hayden (5-11, 190) of Cariere, Bingham kicked thePAT, cutting the Wolves’ lead to 10 points, 24-14, with 10:48remaining in the game.
After stopping Co-Lin at their own 49, Pearl River ran fourplays when sophomore defensive back Clarence Pendleton of CrystalSprings picked off Wildcat quarterback Larry Freeman’s pass at theCo-Lin 37 to set up the hosts’ final scoring drive of thenight.
Co-Lin ran eight plays and scored on a 28-yard run around theright corner by Johns for the 31-14 lead.
With 23 remaining in the game. Freeman went to work in the air.He completed three straight passes to set up a three-yard keeperfor the final Wildcat score. Following Bingham’s PAT kick, PearlRiver cut the deficit to 32-21 with 10 seconds on the clock.
Freeman finished the game completing 8 of 14 passes for 158yards and rushing 16 times for 83 yards. Demetrius Byrd caughtseven passes for 122 yards.