By Sarah Moomaw / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Excitement is in the air.
The West Lauderdale Knights are off to their best start since 2009. The high spirits weren't just about the Knights' promising start, but rather who they beat and how they did it.
West Lauderdale slipped past cross-county rival Southeast Lauderdale, 32-27 Friday night, by running in an interception with 1:27 left on the clock.
"This is the first year we've [won the county] in a while," Knight head coach Stan McCain said. "I think they made a believer out of me tonight, we've won two close game, two good rivalry games right at the end, so I can't say enough about them. They keep fighting and never quit."
Noah Nix's 35-yard pick-6 for the late lead capped a dramatic final four minutes of a ball game that almost got away from Knights.
"The big plays that we had on our side, really helped," McCain said. "The kickoff return, the interception, that type of stuff — if we hadn't had that, no way we would have won."
On the Knights previous drive the Tigers recovered a fumble on West's 38-yard line to earn the ball back with 2:22 to play. Roughly a minute and a half earlier, Southeast took a one-point lead after being down the whole game. Padarius Martin punched in a first-and-goal from the 1 1/2 yard line after being granted half the distance to the goal on a Knight personal foul on the 3-yard line.
"We practice situations, all types of situations, of course we want to be in the right place at the right time ... and we were a couple times tonight and that helped," McCain said.
The game went into halftime after similar dramatics, but with West up by a two-score lead, 26-14.
"Half time I thought, we had something going," McCain said. "Their defensive line was whipping our tails.
In the span of four minutes, each side scored twice, including both teams running kickoff returns for touchdowns.
The Tigers got on the board with a one-play drive on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Takari Brooks to receiver Damion Willis to cut the lead to 14-7.
Eleven seconds later, the Knights' Jackson Little negated the score, running the kickoff for a 58-yard return with 6:57 left in the second quarter.
A 46-yard run by Jonathan Williams put the Knights in position to score again before the half ended. He rushed in a 2-yard score with 3:33 left.
Willis immediately returned the kickoff for a 78-yard score for the halftime score.
The Knights lost starting quarterback Tyler Turnage to a broken collar bone against Newton County in Week 5. Sophomore Larry Ross got the start, but spilt time with freshman Tyler Lantz.
Ross finished the night with passing for 95 yards going six-of-12 and rushing for 25 yards and a touchdown. Noah Nix rushed for 97 yards and returned the game-winning interception.
Brooks threw for a 196 yards on 11-of-23 and a touchdown.