Hazlehurst Indians muddy Brookhaven

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, September 2, 2012

HAZLEHURST – Coach Randal Montgomery won’t send his Hazlehurst Indians indoors to practice when it starts raining. His team adjusted to the rain-soaked, muddy field Saturday and marched to a convincing 24-7 win over the Brookhaven Panthers in Robert F. McDaniel Stadium.

     In a week filled with power outages, school closings and postponements because of Hurricane Isaac,, the much-anticipated game finally arrived Saturday afternoon. Included was a 1-hour delay because of an electrical storm that began in the first quarter with Hazlehurst leading 6-0 on a 5-yard plunge by senior running back Demetrius Cain.

     Cain would later throw a halfback pass to Dedric Reese, pushing Hazlehurst ahead 24-7 with 11:37 left in the game.

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     Did the muddy conditions bother Cain?

     “I was having fun out there,” Cain answered. “It’s a great feeling to beat Brookhaven. Our defense came out and did what they had to do.”

     Hazlehurst gained some revenge after losing a 7-6 decision last year at Brookhaven.

     “That was our only loss last year before the state championship game,” said Cain. “Hopefully we can go unbeaten and win it all this time.”

     Breakdowns on special teams hurt the Panthers. A shanked punt by Noah Allen from his end zone netted a minus-2 yards. Cain scored over left tackle on second down.

     The Indians got a dazzling 50-yard run from Freddie Nelson on the first play of the second quarter. Nelson was dragged down at Brook’s 4-yard line. Two plays later. Aaron Larry stepped across the goal line and Hazlehurst led 12-0.

     The Panthers got a 32-yard punt return from Jermone Kelly to Hazlehurst’s 28-yard line. Four straight carries by senior Demarius Newton, the final a 5-yard dive over right guard, got BHS on the scoreboard. Allen’s PAT kick made it 12-7 with 5:26 left in the first half.

     In the third quarter, the Indians drove 76 yards in 7 plays. Quarterback Kenny Coleman connected with Larry for the final 27 yards and it was 18-7.

     The mud-slick football caused problems for the Panthers again. Allen mishandled the snap from center on a fourth down punt and was tackled at his 24-yard line by defensive tackle Jonkil Skipper. On first down, Cain lofted a pass to Reese for the score.

     “The ball was muddy and hard to throw,” said Cain. “I told my receiver to get down field and get open. He made a good catch.”

     Ole Brook coach Tommy Clopton said the muddy field was no excuse for his team’s misfortunes.  “Both teams played on the same field We gave them three short fields on special teams,” You can’t do that against a good team.

     “We had opportunities to gain the momentum but we didn’t get it done. I must do a better job getting my team ready to play.”

     After missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to Hurricane Isaac’s arrival on the Gulf Coast, the  Panthers watched film Friday and went though an abbreviated walk-through that was cut short by rain.

     “Hazlehurst has a very good team and they are very well-coached,” aid Clopton. “They’ve got some good playmakers, too.”

     Coach Montgomery said his team played well, despite a week of adversity. “We had a lot of distractions and then we had that lightning delay today. Our kids were really focused. We beat a good Brookhaven team.”

     Hazlehurst (3-0) plays a second straight  Class 5A foe Friday, visiting the Jackson Wingfield Falcons. Brookhaven (1-1) visits the Petal Panthers Friday.