By Tony Tsoukalas / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
J’Mar Smith is rolling, the Wildcats are roaring and Meridian High School is headed to its 11th straight playoff appearance.
Meridian defeated visiting Terry High School, 45-26, Friday night to clinch at least fourth place in Region 3-6A. Smith finished the night completing 14-of-19 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns while also adding two more scores on the ground. The performance came just one week after he passed for 187 yards and rushed for 119 more to lead Meridian past Petal.
“I started off hot and I just had to keep going and keep getting my receivers the ball so they can do what they do,” Smith said. “I’m just making some pretty good reads. I have been working with Coach (Larry) Weems and watching film and breaking down what the defense gives us.”
Following a Bulldog punt on the game’s opening drive, Smith connected with receiver Daniel Crowell for a 32-yard pass to give the Wildcats the ball on the Terry 4-yard line. Two plays later he found Corey Davis on a slant to give Meridian a 7-0 lead.
With the game tied at 7-7 later in the quarter, Smith once again led the charge completing 3-of-4 passes on a 10-play drive, eventually pushing past Bulldog defenders on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to put the Wildcats back up 14-7.
Meridian went into the half up 29-14 and extended its lead even more as Smith found running back Richard McQuarley on a 44-yard touchdown pass to start the third quarter. McQuarley finished the game with 46 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown on the ground while adding another score and 51 yards on three catches.
Terry staged a comeback early in the fourth quarter when running back Donovan Lewis busted a 53-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 36-20. Meridian’s Travis Reed then fumbled the ball at midfield on the Wildcats’ next possession leading to a 30-yard touchdown from Terry running back Richard Butler bringing the score to 36-26 with 9:03 left in the game.
“I wish I knew what we did wrong, because I would have fixed it,” Meridian head coach Larry Weems said. “We weren’t tackling anybody. We didn’t execute. We were turning the ball over a couple of times. We just played poorly.”
The Bulldogs’ comeback fizzled out later in the quarter when the Wildcats blocked a punt out of the end zone resulting in a safety. Austin Holt gave Meridian its final score when he fell on a loose ball in the end zone to cap off the scoring at 45-26. But, by that time the Wildcats already had the game in hand.
“We just have momentum going on our side right now,” Smith said. “We just came out here to win and give us a chance in the playoffs to win a state championship.”