Meridian Star


September 30, 2012

Knights drop 5-4A opener

LAUREL —     The West Lauderdale Knights fell to the Laurel Golden Tornadoes 33-9 in the Region 5-4A opener for both teams Friday at R.H. Watkins Stadium. The loss drops West Lauderdale to 2-4 overall. The Golden Tornadoes improved to 3-3 overall. Laurel will get a huge test next week at Quitman (1-0, 5-1) while West Lauderdale hosts Northeast Jones (1-0, 5-2) this Friday night.

    All kickoffs in MHSAA play will begin at 7 p.m. starting this week.

    West Lauderdale’s head football Stan McCain had praise for the Laurel team. “We knew coming in here they were an excellent football team with some explosive players. You have to play almost a perfect game to stay with them, and we did not do that tonight,” said McCain.

    “I thought our defense was solid tonight. They played one great game,” said Laurel head coach Todd Breland.

    Laurel took advantage of great field position in the opening period to lead to two Golden Tornado scores. Five plays into the game, Laurel’s Jarvis Thompson intercepted a WL pass attempt at the Laurel 40-yard line and returned it 18 yards to the Naders’ 42 yard line. Eight plays later, Laurel’s Virzil Tillman ran three yards for the touchdown with 6:54 to play in the opening period.  The extra point attempt failed, and LHS led 6-0.

    Laurel forced West to punt on the next series of the game, and the Golden Tornadoes took advantage of a short punt by the Knights and took over at the WL 35 yard line. Three plays later, Tillman broke loose on a 28- yard run, and the home team was up 13-0 with 4:18 still to play in the opening period.

    “We stressed this week to win the first-down battle. It is a lot easier to call plays when it is second-and -short when you have the ball, and when they have the ball you want them looking at second-and-long,” said Breland.

    West Lauderdale settled down and moved from their own 24 yard line to the Laurel 35 yard line before  a turnover halted the threat. Laurel’s Scooter Jones intercepted a Knights pass, and Laurel took over at their own 30 yard line. Four straight pass completions by Laurel quarterback Keon Howard moved the host team to the WL one yard line. A soaring center snap on first down along with a fumble on second down ended the threat, and West Lauderdale took possession of the ball.

    Later in the period, West took over at the Laurel 33 yard line after recovering a fumble. Three plays later, Milon Roberts broke free  from the 21 yard line and looked like he had clear sailing to the end zone, but he lost the ball at the one yard line, and Laurel recovered. The Knights did get some points out of the scenario when two plays later Howard fumbled out of the back of the end zone, creating two points for the visitors.

    West then took the free kick and moved 56 yards in four plays to score on Roberts 48-yard run for a score. Tyler Germany kicked the conversion, and the Knights trailed 13-9 with 5:16 to play in the half.

    Laurel came right back and moved 62 yards in two plays to score. Howard teamed up with Octavious Cooley on a 29-yard pass and then hit him on a 33-yard pass play for the touchdown. Saul Lopez kicked the conversion, and LHS led 20-9 at the half.  

    West Lauderdale’s offense had a difficult time against the LHS defense. The Knights had seven possessions in the second half but were forced to punt six times, with one of those being blocked.  Laurel also intercepted a pass on the other offensive series.

    Shemar Keys interception in the third resulted in a 60-yard touchdown for the Golden Tornadoes. The final score of the evening was a Cooley catch of nine yards from Howard in the opening minute of the fourth period. The score came as a result of a blocked WL punt by Laurel’s Malik Terrell.

    Cooley (6-3, 215) caught eight passes for 144 yards help lead the Tornado’s offense. “We need those big plays from Octavious because that will just make everyone else better,” said Breland about his freshman star. Tillman rushed for 81 yards on 12 carries. Howard hit on 14-of-23 passes for 195 yards.

    James Williams intercepted two passes for the Knights while Roberts led the offense with 94 yards on 16 rushing carries. Shydai Lewis had six catches for 41 yards.

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