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Hazlehurst Indians rout SE Lauderdale

HAZLEHURST – Throughout Southwest Mississippi this footballseason, most teams have practiced a bend-but-don’t break defensivephilosophy. If your offense can score some points and your defensecan limit the opposition, a victory would nearly be guaranteed.

That was the case Friday night, as the defending Class 3A statechampion Hazlehurst Indians hosted the Southeast Lauderdale Tigersin the South State 3A semifinals.

The Indians registered 27 first-quarter points, then held offthe Tigers 47-18 before an estimated 3,000 chilled fans in RobertMcDaniel Stadium.

Hazlehurst (10-2) advances to the South State 3A title game forthe second consecutive year. The Indians will travel to Meadvilleto meet the Franklin County Bulldogs, with the kickoff set for 7p.m.

Franklin County eliminated Collins 17-13 Friday night. In theNorth State Semifinals, Nettleton edged Charleston 14-12 and Ripleywhipped Booneville 28-7.

“We only had three starters returning on defense,” said Indianfirst-year head coach Vernon Perry. “We had to use some differentguys to get the job done.”

To get Hazlehurst going, the offense took center stage in theopening period. The Indians got touchdown runs of 18, 16 and 14yards from Courtney Hall. Keyshon Reese added an 11-yard scoringjaunt; along with 3 PAT kicks and Perry’s Indians had a 27-6 leadentering the second frame.

“We knew that if we could score some points, our defense wouldbe able to hold them,” Coach Perry added.

Hall also had a 3-yard scamper in the final period. He finishedthe game with 105 yards on 15 carries and 4 touchdowns. He caught 1pass for 29 yards.

SE Lauderdale (7-5) could not find an answer for Hazlehurst’sblazing speed. The Tigers dominated the time of possession (26:59to 21:01), but were unable to score often enough against an Indianfront-line that was led by Dandy Dozen defensive lineman JazzmanGuy.

“We just could not compete with their speed,” said Tiger headcoach Ty Trahan. “We could not get into any kind of offensiveflow.

“Our kids played extremely hard tonight,” continued Trahan. “I’mproud of them.”

For SE Lauderdale, Aaron Larkin led the ground game with 73yards on 15 rushes. Quarterback Jerry Wallace was 8-of-28 passingfor 87 yards. Courtney Roberts had 1 catch for 48 yards and atouchdown. Larkin and Wallace also scored rushing touchdowns forthe Tigers.

Hazlehurst got a 10-carry, 198-yard, 2 touchdown performancefrom running back Bobby Moore. Reese added another score and kicked5-of-7 PAT kicks.