Sumrall secures win over West Lincoln
Published 11:10 pm Saturday, September 5, 2015
SUMRALL – Even if it wasn’t as heart-breaking, victory proved just as slippery for West Lincoln football at Sumrall on Friday night.
A week after seeing a win snatched away in the final seconds, the Bears (1-2) had the game within reach and momentum at halftime, only to watch the host Bobcats (1-2) explode for three touchdowns on four offensive snaps in the third quarter, pulling away to take a 49-35 win over West Lincoln at Lions Club Field in Sumrall.
“Big plays killed us, and that always is a problem,” West Lincoln head coach Charlie Jackson said. “I think we played solid in a lot of ways and I think there’s a lot to learn from this one. Our boys played hard. We’re a small school and have a lot of guys going both ways, and you match up against a team that has some guys going one way or the other. I’m proud of our guys – they battled.
“There were times they had us on the edge, and speed-wise we just couldn’t catch up to them. We took one step off and we couldn’t recover.”
The Bears were paced by quarterback Jayden Rushing, who ran 18 times for 66 yards and two TDs and was 15-of-24 through the air for 224 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Gabe Nations caught seven passes for 116 yards and two scores.
Sumrall quarterback Rhett Harvey was 12-of-14 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those were 57-yard tosses to Dannis Jackson, who had five catches for 162 yards and two TDs. The other was a 36-yard scoring catch by Kenny Watts, who had three receptions for 53 yards and a TD. Matt Lott added four catches for 60 yards.
Kobe Sakata carried the football 15 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns for the Bobcats and Ty’Reke Preston added seven carries for 68 yards and TD. Harvey ran for 33 yards and a score.
It was all about momentous swings, as Sumrall turned two fumble recoveries into two touchdowns in less than a minute in the second quarter, to take a 28-14 lead to halftime and then broke the wall down in the third quarter, when they scored three touchdowns in their first four offensive snaps of the second half.
“It’s a big confidence builder for us – to score those kinds of points and make those kinds of plays,” Sumrall head coach Shannon White said. “We can talk about it and do all these motivational things, but there’s nothing like playing and being successful. That’s the bottom line.”
West Lincoln, which found itself down at the break largely due to those turnovers, scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns on Sumrall’s substitutes to make the final score look more interesting, but looked helpless in the third quarter.
Even after West Lincoln had shifted momentum, driving for a seven-yard touchdown catch by Nations and then stuffing Sumrall at the one-yard line as the clock expired on the first half, any momentum that belonged to the Bears vanished immediately once play got underway again. On the first play of the second half, Harvey and Jackson connected on their second 57-yard touchdown play, with Jackson getting to the left sideline and simply running past the entire Bear defense.
A quick three and out gave the ball back to the Bobcats, who needed only two snaps to find the end zone again, this time with Harvey going to Watts.
Then, déjà vu. Another West Lincoln three and out before Sumrall used the first play of the ensuing drive to send Preston rumbling 35 yards for a touchdown and a 49-14 score line with 6:44 to play in the third.
As Sumrall emptied its bench, the Bears made a game of it, but it was too little too late. Rushing scored on a 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter before finding Nations on a 43-yard TD pass with 4:44 left in the game. He then tossed a 24-yard touchdown to Lofton Sills with 2:28 to make it a two-possession contest that never felt that close once the second half began.
The first half was relatively evenly matched, outside of the turnovers. West Lincoln struck first, getting a 19-yard scoring run from Rushing with 5:49 left in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead after the point-after attempt was blocked.
Sumrall responded by going 61 yards on its next drive, capped by a seven-yard TD run by Harvey to take a 7-6 lead with 1:45 to go in the first.
The Bobcats then got their first explosive play of the evening, when Harvey found Jackson on the right side and the freshman slipped a defensive back and took off 57 yards to the end zone and a 14-6 lead.
That play began a three-touchdown swing, as the hosts twice forced and recovered fumbles, each time translating the turnover into another seven points on the board, both times on runs by Sakata.
The result snapped a 13-game for Sumrall, which last won on Nov. 1, 2013, over St. Patrick.
Offensively for the Bears, Jayden Rushing led West Lincoln with 166 yards passing and rushed for 92 yards.
Chase Owens was the top receiver with 69 yards. Lofton Sills had 46 receiving yards.
Defesnsively, Gabe Nations powered the Bears with eight tackles. Liam Rutland contributed seven stops. LeDarrius Jones had five tackles.
Sumrall will now travel to Choctaw Central on Friday.
West Lincoln will host Bogue Chitto next week.
“I think this one is going to help us for next week,” Jackson said.
By Josh Mlot, PineBeltSPORTS/The Hattiesburg Post