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Fighting Irish eliminate BA Cougars

The Greenville-St. Joseph Fighting Irish (11-1) lived up to their No. 1 ranking on Friday night as they defeated the Brookhaven Academy Cougars (9-3) 40-0 in Greenville.

The MAIS AA semifinal matchup was played on a field that looked like a mud bog. The Irish jumped all over the Cougars early and led 34-0 at halftime.

The hope was that the sloppy conditions would slow down the dynamic duo of juniors Trey Benson and Dillon Johnson for St. Joe. That wasn’t the case as Benson — a running back — ran nine times for 122 yards and one touchdown. Johnson — a quarterback — rushed 14 times for 142 yards and a score. Johnson finished 7-of-11 for 95 yards and two scores through the air. Benson and Johnson each have the attention of nearly every school in the SEC as the duo has put up huge numbers all season for the defending AA state champs.

St. Joe got on the board with 8:41 remaining in the first quarter when Johnson hit sophomore Kaleb Lockett with a 26-yard touchdown pass. Those two would hook up again just three minutes later, this time from 25 yard out. Luckett now has 10 receiving touchdowns on just 25 receptions in 2018.

St. Joe got their final score of the first quarter with 3:31 remaining when Benson broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run.

Fullback Jacob Nelson got the second rushing score for the Irish early in the second quarter on a 3-yard run. Johnson would score the final St. Joe offensive score of the game with 2:02 remaining until halftime when Johnson ran in from the two-yard line.

The final score of the night came early in the fourth quarter when a high Cougar snap ended up in the end zone and was recovered by Nelson.

The St. Joe defense was relentless as it feature the same players such as Johnson and Nelson flying to the football as defenders.

BA senior quarterback Dawson Flowers finished 5-of-20 for 40 yards. Junior running back Nick Ogden rushed six times for 38 yards. Sophomore Luke Johnston carried 10 times for 26 yards. Cade Brown had one catch for 24 yards and Cole Griffin caught three passes for 11 yards. Gunar Brister, Keegan Smith, and Griffin led the blue and white with six tackles apiece.

The Cougars graduate a 10-man senior class that has seen the program go from 0-9 in 2016 to 9-3 and one game away from the state title game in 2018.

St. Joe advances to face Centreville Academy on Saturday at Jackson Academy in the AA state finals. Centreville advanced on Friday by defeating Sylva-Bay Academy on the road 40-38 in triple overtime.

Story by Cliff Furr