By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
The Northeast Jones Tigers came into Collinsville on Friday night hoping to come away with a second division victory and thanks to an explosive second quarter, the Tigers did just that, ruining the Knight's homecoming festivities 34-14.
Bolstered by two swiping away a fumble and an interception, Northeast Jones used an air and ground attack to churn out 358 yards of offense in the first half led by quarterback James Ayers' 16 of 25 passing for 189 yards and three touchdowns. By the time the first half was over, the Tigers had snatched a 31-6 lead away from the Knights.
The Knights, however, would draw the first points of the game using their hurry-up, slashing offense to throw the Tigers off their feet. West Lauderdale running back Milon Roberts gouged the Northeast defense with runs of 25 and 22 yards on the Knights first possession. The 22-yarder right up the gut put the Knights up 6-0 after the PAT by Tyler Germany failed. Roberts finished with 133 yards rushing and the lone TD.
West Lauderdale again used a stifling defense to stop Northeast Jones and on their ensuing possession drove down to the Tiger 24. But Germany's 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
The blocked field goal set the Tigers deep in their own territory but that is where Ayers began to connect with his receivers, Cameron Breland, TyShaun McCurtis and Josh Hosey, all tall, rangy wideouts who ran precise routes.
After two incompletions deep in Knight territory, Cole Byrd split the uprights with a 42-yard field goal to pull Northeast to within three, 6-3, at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers were just getting started.
West Lauderdale could not muster a first down on their next possession and had to punt to Northeast who began their drive from their own 37. Reggio Dean sliced straight up the middle of the Knight defense and split the safeties on his way to a 63-yard romp. The PAT was good and the Tigers had clawed out of their hole to lead 10-7.
West Lauderdale's next drive, covering 71 yards, ended with another missed field goal attempt, this time from 27 yards. Ayers took this opportunity to again get his receivers into the act and they drove the Tigers 80 yards on 13 plays. The drive was capped with Ayers connecting with Hosey on a flanker screen from the Knight 5-yard line. The PAT by Cole was again good and the Tigers had built a 17-6 cushion with 4:18 left in the half.
At the West Lauderdale 35-yard line, Roberts fumbled the ball and Breland, from his safety spot, was able to pounce on it setting the Tigers up in excellent field position. It took Ayers only one toss to a streaking Breland on a post pattern for the score. The PAT was true and the Tigers had extended their lead to 24-6.
The Knights tried to regain the momentum but on their next possession quarterback Richard Thomas was intercepted by, none other than Breland, who seemed to be everywhere. Working from the Knight 44-yard line, Ayers led his Tigers down to the West Lauderdale 15 where he found Hosey again, this time on a fade in the right corner of the endzone. Byrd's PAT was good and with a scant three seconds left in the half, the Tigers had erupted for a 31-6 lead.
West Lauderdale and Northeast Jones would battle throughout the third quarter and into the fourth until finally the Knights struck quickly after holding the Tigers to a punt from deep in their territory. The punt was shanked and the Knights took over at the Tiger 32.
Tyrin Henry again showed the quick striking ability of the Knights as he took the first handoff from Thomas, hit up the middle and then shifted right diving into the endzone. Shydai Lewis swept around left end for a 2-point conversion and the Knights had pulled closer at 31-14. But that was as close as they could get.
The Tigers answered that score with a field goal by Byrd, this time from 21 yards, for the final 34-14 Northeast Jones win.
Northeast Jones moved to 5-2 overall, and 2-0 in the division while West Lauderdale fell to 2-5, 0-2.