By Rocky Higginbotham / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
A pair of teams searching for their first victory of the young 2013 football season tangled here on “The Hill” at Kemper Academy Friday night, and the host Rams used a big first-half effort on the ground to whip Calvary Christian School 40-22.
Tyler Jowers and Jason Craig combined for 280 yards and three touchdowns to lead Kemper, which evened its record at 1-1.
“We played much better tonight,” Kemper coach Pete McCleskey said. “We had some turnovers and some mistakes last week that really hurt us. But tonight, we took care of the ball a little better and executed a little better.”
Jowers ran for 183 yards and one TD, while Craig rushed for 97 yards and two scores.
In fact, all three of those scores came in the first half, when Kemper scored on five of its first six possessions and built a commanding 34-8 lead.
Craig got the Rams on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter -- a drive sparked by a 64-yard screen pass from Dustin Davis to Cole Thomas.
Kemper’s Dylan McFarland recovered an onsides kick following Craig’s touchdown, and it took the Rams just 6 seconds to get back in the end zone. Craig did the honors again on a 29-yard run, then Davis found McFarland for a two-point pass to make it 14-0.
Calvary’s first touchdown came on a 24-yard fumble return by John Derrick Washam, with a two-point run from Beto Medina making it 14-8 with 7:53 left in the first half. But the Cougars didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.
McFarland had a nose for the football Friday night, as he caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Davis; then recovered a fumble to set up Kemper’s next score. Jowers did the honors this time on a 14-yard run, with Davis finding Thomas on a two-point pass to make it a 28-8 game.
An interception by McFarland gave the ball back to Kemper, and on the very next play, Jowers busted a 58-yard run to put Kemper inside the Calvary 10.
Hunter Cumberland took it in from there, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 34-8.
“Last week, we had the turnovers but tonight, they swung in our favor,” McCleskey said.
The only scoring in the third quarter came on a 4-yard run by Medina that got Calvary within 34-16.
In the fourth, each team added a late touchdown: Kemper got a 9-yard scoring pass from Michael Hull to Bailey Luke and Calvary got a 45-yard scoring jaunt from Washam.
Washam finished with 112 yard on the ground for the Cougars (0-2), who totaled just 130 yards of offense on the night.