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5-0 Hornets halt N. Pike

Loyd Star played heads-up defense Friday night and held off theNorth Pike Jaguars 26-20 on rain-soaked William E. “Sambo” SmithField. The victory hiked Loyd Star’s unbeaten record to 5-0entering an open date this week.

“It feels great to beat a 4A team,” said Loyd Star running backTradareous Wilson, who scored the game’s first 2 touchdowns. “Wehad to fight hard to win.”

Loyd Star has notched victories over a pair of 4A schools and apair of 1A teams, plus a win over 3A power Franklin County. TheHornets notched 3 shutouts but gave up the most points to anexplosive North Pike squad that trailed 26-20 at halftime andself-destructed with turnovers.

North Pike (2-3) was turned back by Loyd Star’s defense on 3,second-half scoring opportunities inside the red zone. The Hornetsrecovered a Jaguar fumble at their 3-yard line and made goal-linestands at their 16 and 9-yard lines.

Loyd Star middle linebacker David Fields had missed the previous2 games because of a broken bone in his left hand. It was heavilywrapped and padded for last night’s game, allowing him to make 10tackles.

“We stopped North Pike’s inside game but they were fast gettingoutside,” said Fields. “We made mistakes but we pulled it out. Ourcoaches did a good job adjusting our defense at halftime. Westepped it up physically the second half.”

It was an offensive showcase in the first half as Wilson ran 41and 6 yards for touchdowns. Chris Buie kicked both extrapoints.

North Pike, powered by quarterback Revis Butler and running backLaDerrick Turner, came storming back. Turner raced 22 yards andButler ran 4 yards for TDs, pulling the Jaguars within 2 points at14-12 after both conversions failed.

A partially blocked punt gave the Hornets ideal field positionas they took over at NP’s 11-yard line. On second down, MarquisHayes ran 11 yards over right tackle for the touchdown.

North Pike’s Darius Tatum blocked Buie’s PAT kick and Loyd Starled 20-12 with 6:58 left in the first half.

The scoring parade continued as Turner ripped off 12 yards tocap a 5-play, 65-yard TD march. Butler’s 2-point conversion rungained the Jags a 20-20 deadlock with 5:39 left in the firsthalf.

North Pike’s misfortune continued as Butler lost the handle onthe football during a pass play. The fumble was recovered bydefensive lineman Cody Langham at NP’s 13-yard line.

Quarterback Korey Allen, drawing his first varsity start inplace of injured senior Joseph Shelby, gained 4-yards on firstdown. Hayes took the second-down handoff and produced a spinning,tackle-breaking dash to the end zone, giving the Hornets a 26-20lead with 2:41 left in the half.

In the closing minutes before halftime, North Pike drove to theLoyd Star 8-yard line. Butler hooked up with Jalen Adams for 27yards and received a 15-yard boost on a penalty against Loyd

Star for a personal foul.

However, a pair of 10-yard holding penalties and a 5-yard loss,set the stage for Butler hitting Turner for 22 yards to the 9. Buta reverse lost 3 yards and a fourth down pass was broken up in theend zone.

North Pike coach Chris Smith was disappointed with his team’ssetback. “We had two touchdown passes dropped and we hurt ourselveswith turnovers. We got in the red zone a couple of times but wecouldn’t score.

“Don’t take anything away from Loyd Star,” Smith noted. “Theyhave a good bunch.”

Smith’s Jaguars host Amite County for homecoming Friday night.Loyd Star’s homecoming follows Oct. 2, when the Hornets hostMadison St. Joe.

“I’m proud of our players for playing hard and I’m proud of ourcoaches for putting together a good game plan,” said Loyd Star headcoach Ryan Ross, after receiving a hug and a kiss from his wifeafter the game. “Our pass coverage was big and we worked hardpreparing for that. I’m proud of our secondary.

“I’m real proud of Korey,” Ross continued. “He stepped in andran our offense. When Korey got hurt (fourth quarter), Joe Shelbysaid he was ready to play and he finished the game.”

Allen led Loyd Star’s attack with 13 carries for 81 yards.Wilson rushed for 79 yards.

On defense, Hayes accounted for 9 tackles and 2 pass breakups.T.J. Floyd made 8 tackles and Sims 7. Fred Clark intercepted aButler pass in the first quarter.