Tylertown eliminates FranklinCounty from playoffs

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 1, 2008

MEADVILLE – When lightning struck Friday night, so didTylertown’s Jameon Lewis with back- to-back touchdown runs thatended Franklin County’s State Championship dreams with a 26-0victory in the Class 3A South State Championship finals.

Tylertown (12-0) moves on to face defending Class 3A championLouisville Saturday at 3 p.m.,in Jackson’s Mississippi VeteransMemorial Stadium. The Chiefs claimed their first South StateChampionship in football history Friday night by outlasting theBulldogs in a sloppy, rain drenched game that was played understeady thundershowers for nearly three hours in Louie MullinsStadium.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Tylertown coachWalter Denton about winning the South State Championship andadvancing to the state championship game. “We felt if we scoredfirst with the field conditions like they were, and the stormsmoving in, that we had a chance with our defense.”

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As soon as the national anthem ended, a storm cell hit theMeadville area with heavy rains and flashes of lightning thatturned an already saturated field into a muddy mess. Tylertownscored on an electrifying 37 yard quarterback keeper from Lewis totake the lead and the game’s momentum early in the firstquarter.

“That play was called 19 buck that I scored on,” said Lewisrecounting the touchdown. “I just followed my blocker and kept onrunning.”

Lewis, an athletic 5-9, 172-pound junior quarterback for theChiefs kept Tylertown going despite the swampy field conditions. Hecarried the ball 16 times for a game high 85 yards.

“Jameon can cut on a dime,” said Denton. “He’s very quick. Hegives people problems.”

Franklin County (12-2) playing in their third straight SouthState Championship could never get anything going offensively. FCAll-State quarterback Jamie Collins re-aggravated a high anklesprain injury in the second quarter that limited his footwork andthe Bulldogs offensive movement the rest of the contest.

“Everything that could go wrong for us did,” said first yearFranklin County head coach Trent Hammond. “The weather had a bigthing to do with it, but Tylertown had a lot more to do withit.”

The Bulldogs inserted reserve junior Edward McGhee in atquarterback with a minute remaining in the second frame. Facingfourth and inches at the Chiefs 41, with 0:56 left in the half theBulldogs fumbled a shotgun snap and Tylertown took over, runningthe remaining seconds off the clock.

The Chiefs never allowed the Bulldogs to get any closer to theend zone in the second half, as Lewis raced 8-yards untouched inthe third quarter for a score and senior fullback Anthony Carradded two touchdowns in the fourth period of 5 and 16 yards to shutthe door on the Bulldogs’ season.

“They just came out and beat us,” said Hammond. “They lined upand got after us two games in a row. They just had our number thisyear.”

Tylertown beat the Bulldogs in Meadville 13-7 on Sept. 26. TheChiefs won the Region 7-3A title and the Bulldogs finished runnersup. Franklin County’s high-powered offense was held scoreless forthe first time since 2005.

“It just doesn’t feel right not going back to Jackson and havingthe chance to play for state,” said Bulldogs junior cornerbackDeHendret Collins after the game. “It hurts, this one reallyhurts.”

Franklin County was denied a third straight trip to Jacksonafter winning 3A in 2006 and finishing state runner’s up lastyear.

“Its not gonna feel right next week with us not in Jackson,”said Bulldogs junior defensive tackle Bobby O’Quinn, who had a gamehigh 14 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and a sack in theheartbreaking loss.

Members of Franklin County’s team shed tears and emotionfollowing the game, while Tylertown players celebrated by slidingthrough the pond-sized end zone. Several Chiefs players, both pastand present congratulated Coach Denton after the game.

“It really says a lot about our district (Region 7-3A) that wehad two teams playing for South State here tonight,” added Dentonin between hugs and handshakes. “This is the third straight year ateam from our district will be playing for state. I’m happy for ourkids and for all our Tylertown fans that we get to go play for itall now.”