Meridian Star

September 21, 2013

Cougars bite Knights

By Sarah Moomaw /
The Meridian Star

COLLINSVILLE —     Jamoral Graham is used to running in touchdowns, but not on quarterback keeper plays, nor in constant rain.

    But in his first-ever stint at quarterback, Graham and the Newton County Cougars stole West Lauderdale's Homecoming game with a 33-10 win on Friday night.

    "Our goal was to get to 5-0. We didn't get there, but there's nothing wrong with 4-1," Cougar head coach Jackie Williamson said. "The kids answered tonight. We had a big challenge ahead with all the injuries we had, with Jacob Edwards not playing, but I was proud of our kids for battling. We had some kids that stepped up in hard situations, especially with all this rain that we had."

    Graham, playing in the absence of sophomore quarterback Jacob Edwards, finished the night five-for-seven for 100 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.

    "I was kind of nervous. I aint going to lie, but I stepped up, did my job, executed, and came out with the win," Graham said. "They picked us for Homecoming, I don't appreciate that but we came out did our job got the win. That's all I wanted."

    After a scoreless first quarter, both sides traded consecutive scores in the second.

    Graham punched in the first score of the game on a first-and-goal to cap a 55-yard drive with 6:02 left in the first half, 6-0.

    On the following kick off, West was looking for retaliation and Noah Nix returned the ball to the Cougars 36-yard line.

    The Knights converted the first down on a 13-yard run by Jonathan Williams, but had to settle with a 24-yard field goal from Slade Thompson on the next fourth down to cut the lead in half, 6-3.

    With 1:17 left on the clock before halftime, Graham cut through the Knight defense for a 13-yard score, 12-3, ending the big quarter during a downpour.

    "Goodness, we were asking Jamoral Graham to play quarterback for the first time ever in flood, that's hard enough to play on a dry night. we put him in flood storm and he did his job," Williamson said.

    The conditions never slowed him or the Cougars down as their attack continued through the second half.

    Halfway through the third quarter, Graham took his longest run on the night, in from the 34-yard line and a 19-3 lead, with 7:44 on the clock.

    In the fourth quarter, the Cougars capitalized on Knight mistakes by scoring back-to-back one-play touchdowns.

    Newton County returned a punt on West's 29-yard line. After the snap, Graham found himself on back on the 49, but unleased a long pass to Clay Karcher waiting in the left side the end zone with 10:54 left in regulation.

    "The throw was great ... and Karcher had been called for a few penalties throughout the night which we sort of shock our head at and finally redemtion came through."

    Roughly two minutes later, the Cougars recovered a fumble on the 5-yard line. Demetrius Gooden took the hand off straight up the middle for the score, 33-3.

    West added a touchdown with 3:59 to play on a successful take handoff. Tyler Lantz, who had taken over at quarterback earlier in the quarter, became the Knights leading rusher after a 76-yard run down the left side, 33-10. He finished the night with 77 yards rushed. Williams ran for 76 yards.  

    The win boosts the Cougars to 4-1 on the season and sends them into a Week 6 bye before district play. West Lauderdale will continue their stacked rivalry schedule when they host Southeast Lauderdale next Friday.