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Copiah Colonels capture emotional win over Bucs

GALLMAN — High school football games can be an emotional rollercoaster on Friday nights. Nothing was more evident than the sceneat Colonel Field, as Copiah Academy welcomed Bowling Green (La.) inthe season opener for both MPSA teams.

The Colonels, inspired by the spirit of a fallen teammate,opened the season with a 17-0 shutout of the Buccaneers.

Copiah hosts Leake Academy Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7p.m.

The Colonels (1-0) honored senior teammate Preston Berry, formerplayer Charles Nunnery and Coach Jack Thompson, before kickoff witha moment of silence. Copiah players and coaches wore decals ofBerry’s number 73. He died Aug. 5 from injuries suffered in anautomobile accident.

“Preston was a defensive lineman and our emotional sparkplug,”said Colonel first-year head coach Scotty Cline. “We played with alot of intensity and were very emotional tonight.”

The defending MPSA AA state champions were most impressive ontheir initial drive of the game.

After a 3-and-out by the Bucs, the Colonels took only 33 secondsoff the clock to get on the scoreboard. Senior quarterback DanielSims found running back Ben Stevens with a 38-yard scoring strikeover the middle of the Bowling Green defense. Richard Henley tackedon the first of 2 PAT kicks for a 7-0 Copiah lead with 10:12 leftin the opening stanza.

Turnovers plagued Cline’s team during the next severalpossessions. Bowling Green, coached by Gary Hendry, was unable totake advantage of the Copiah miscues.

“We just did not play well tonight,” said Coach Hendry who is inhis second head coaching stint with the Bucs. “Take nothing awayfrom Copiah. They are well coached.”

Henley drilled a 20-yard field goal; giving the Colonels a 10-0lead at halftime as the horn sounded.

It was a virtual standstill in the third period as both teamsmarched up and down the field without any scoring.

Sims, who had already passed for a touchdown, found paydirt on a23-yard jaunt to the goal line with 9:45 left in the game. Sims waspleased that the Colonels got the win, but he saw room forimprovement.

“We were a bit rusty coming out tonight,” Sims said followingthe game. “We have to hold on to the football. Preston got us firedup tonight.”

Sims completed 12 of 23 passes (1 interception) for 119 yardsthrough the air, plus compiling 69 yards on 12 rushes to lead theCopiah ground attack. Brandon Greer carried 7 times for 65 yards.Ben Stevens led all receivers with 53 yards on 5 receptions.

Bucs’ running back Jessie Milton led his team with 54 yards on 9rushes. Quarterback Cash Cooley completed 5 of 9 for 27 yards andan interception. Cooley rushes 18 times for 16 yards, as theColonel defense dropped Cooley for 24 yards in losses.

Bowling Green was limited to 141 yards of total offense,compared to 261 by Copiah.

“Our defense played well tonight,” Coach Cline commented. “Weneed to be more consistent of offense.”