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Co-Lin Wolves top Pearl River in Homecoming

DAILY LEADER / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back DeLance Turner (43) gets away from Pearl River's Emmanuel Ray (7) Saturday at Stone Stadium.

DAILY LEADER / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back DeLance Turner (43) gets away from Pearl River’s Emmanuel Ray (7) Saturday at Stone Stadium.

WESSON – Wild. That’s about the only way to sum up the first half of the game between No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln (6-1, 3-1) and Pearl River (3-4, 1-3) on Saturday afternoon in Wesson. Three long scoring play by the Wildcat defense and special teams had the Wolfpack fighting from behind from the opening whistle. The gaffes and miscues were kept to a minimum in the second half and that was enough for Co-Lin to hold on to a 37-27 victory on homecoming Saturday.

The start was disastrous for Co-Lin as kick returner Courtney Foy fumbled the ball on a jarring hit from the Pearl River kick coverage team. The ball popped straight into the air where it was plucked and returned for 12 yards and a touchdown by Pearl River’s Taron Divens. The Brandon King point after attempt was good and just nine seconds into the game the Wildcats held a 7-0 lead.

Co-Lin would respond on their next drive by using some trickery to get into the end zone for the first time. The Wolfpack ran a reverse that looked like it was setting up a halfback throw, but that turned into a flea-flicker, which quarterback Daniel Fitzwater chunked 36-yards down field for a touchdown to a waiting Casey Gladney. The Blayne Jones point after attempt was good and with 11:17 left in the first quarter the Wolfpack had tied the game at 7-7.

That lead lasted exactly 16 seconds as Wildcat kick-returner Charles Ducksworth flew by the Co-Lin coverage team in route to a 98-yard touchdown return. King nailed his point after attempt and Co-Lin trailed again, 14-7.

The Wolfpack offense had another exceptional day of putting the ball into the air versus a Pearl River defense had been playing well in their last few contests. Freshman quarterback Daniel Fitzwater was 27-of-38 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. His second touchdown throw of the game tied the game up late in the first quarter. Fitzwater hooked up on an eight-yard touchdown pass and catch with wide receiver Ross Hill Jr. The point after attempt was good by Jones and Co-Lin had tied the game at 14 with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter. Jones would add a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter and for the first time Co-Lin held the lead, 17-14.

Another Co-Lin turnover would lead to more points for Pearl River in the second quarter. Co-Lin running back Kelton Smith was slammed to the ground by the Wildcat defense and Pearl River defensive end Darrius Caldwell would scoop the fumble and rumble 71 yards for the touchdown return. King was good on the point after kick and Pearl River had jumped back into the lead, 21-17.

That would be the last lead of the game for Pearl River as Co-Lin would put together a statement drive to take the lead into the halftime break. The drive encompassed 12 plays, took 6:40 off of the clock, covered 61 yards, and paid off with a four yard touchdown pass from Fitzwater to tight end Tyson McDonald. Jones would convert the point after kick and Co-Lin led 24-21 with just 42 seconds remaining before halftime.

The Co-Lin defense was swarming the line of scrimmage throughout the night and made life difficult for Wildcat quarterback Shaun White. The Pearl River offense picked up two first downs and gained 25 yards in the first half.

Another huge drive late in the third quarter would give Coach Glenn Davis and his coaching staff the breathing room that they craved. The 13-play drive covered 91 yards and ate 5:34 off of the clock. It culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by Smith. Jones missed the point after attempt and with 3:14 left in the third quarter, Co-Lin had pushed their lead to 30-21.

Smith would further redeem himself for his earlier fumble by capping the Co-Lin scoring off for the night with another short touchdown run, this one two yards, and Co-Lin led 37-21 with just 1:49 left in the game.

A desperation touchdown from Pearl River with under a minute to play did nothing to tarnish a dominating day by the Co-Lin defense. The Wolfpack defenders stonewalled a Wildcat offense that boasted a strong power running game. Co-Lin held Pearl River to under 20 yards rushing for the game and under 200 yards of total offense.

The South Division win for Co-Lin sets up a huge matchup next Saturday in Perkinston with the Gulf Coast Bulldogs. Co-Lin and Gulf Coast are tied in first place in the division with Jones County, all with a record of 3-1. Jones holds the tie-breaker over both Gulf Coast and Co-Lin after defeating them head-to-head. Kick off in Perksinston is at 2 p.m. Listen live at www.colinathletics.com or on WMJU 104.3 FM in Brookhaven.