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Puckett turns over Bobcats

BOGUE CHITTO — Senior running back Matthew Willis and hisPuckett teammates showed exactly why they are the No. 1 team inClass 1A football. An estimated crowd of 1,500 watched Willis leada punishing ground attack that amassed over 500 yards and theWolves played knockdown, shutout defense Friday night, posting a35-0 win over the Bogue Chitto Bobcats on Troy Smith Field.

Willis (5-9, 185), regarded as one of the top runners inMississippi, plowed for 201 yards and 1 touchdown on 25 carries.His fourth-quarter, 65-yard TD run, nailed the coffin lid shut,giving the defending state champion Wolves (6-0) a 28-0 lead with5:17 left to play.

“We are a better team than what we showed the first half,” saidWillis. “Coach (Jaris Patrick) really chewed our butts athalftime.

“This was our best defensive game tonight,” Willis pointed out.”We played physical ball. We hit them (Bobcats) and theyfumbled.”

Willis also had a fourth-quarter interception that led to atouchdown. He picked off BC quarterback Seth Avants at Puckett’s42-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Bobby Williamsstreaked 37 yards to paydirt, giving the Wolves their final TD with57 seconds left to play.

Puckett (6-0) had taken a 14-0 lead into the fourth quarter. A13-play, 67-yard scoring drive to start the final 12 minutes ofaction gave the Wolves a 21-0 lead with 6:33 remaining.

Bogue Chitto (6-1, 3-1), suffering its first Region 4-1A loss,had battled the Wolves through the first half but were constantlyderailed by turnovers. The Bobcats, who were averaging 44.2 pointsper game, lost 5 fumbles and were intercepted once.

“We had too many turnovers and penalties,” said BC coach GarethSartin. “You can’t turn the ball over against a great team likePuckett.

“We had several nice drives but then we would have a turnover.”Our defense was outstanding in the first half. Willis and Williamsare especially hard to tackle because they’re so fast andstrong.”

Sartin said a major turning point in the game arrived late inthe third quarter. Avants had completed a 17-yard pass to D.J.Turner at Puckett’s 5-yard line. However, Turner fumbled on thetackle and Puckett recovered. Sartin disputed the call but thereferee didn’t change the decision.

“Then Willis got a big run (38 yards) and (Jonathan) Cameron gota big run,” going 45 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. “Themomentum changed.”

Avants, who had accounted for 967 rushing yards and 18 TDs goinginto the game, was gang-tackled by the Wolves. He had 52 yardsrushing and 145 yards passing.

Bobcat wide receiver Brian Robinson had 4 catches for 79 yards.Starting wide receiver J.W. Fry was injured in an auto accidentFriday afternoon and received cuts and bruises. He didn’t play.

Puckett coach Jaris Patrick was happy to get another win as histeam seeks a championship repeat.

“Bogue Chitto played us tough the first half but we were able toshut their offense down,” said Patrick. “We have been watching themon film. If you get after them and hit them hard enough, they’llfumble.”

The Bobcats fumbled twice in the first quarter after the Wolvesdrove 62-yards on the game-opening series and scored on a 37-yardscamper by Williams and he cut back and reached the end zone.Christian Holmes kicked his first of 5 extra points.

Bogue Chitto only crossed midfield once in the second half. TheBobcats drove to Puckett’s 20-yard line in the second quarterbefore being turned back by the Wolves.