SPRINGVILLE • North Pontotoc’s air attack was the difference Friday night, as the Vikings defeated rival South Pontotoc 34-0 to ensure the Horton Trophy remained in Ecru.
The Vikings (2-0) put up 21 points on long touchdown passes in the final five and half minutes of the second quarter.
“We weren’t expecting press man coverage,” said North Pontotoc head coach Andy Crotwell. “It took us a little time to get adjusted to that, but once we did I thought we executed well.”
South Pontotoc defensive back Kendall Morphis intercepted a pass early in the first quarter, but the Cougars were forced to punt. Vikings tailback Raquan Booth ripped off a 61-yard TD run that was called back due to a holding penalty. North was then forced to punt, but they soon got the ball back when the Viking defense forced a third straight South three and out to start the game.
Booth had a nice 18-yard run, and on the next play Tyler Hill broke free for a 37-yard TD with 3:08 remaining in the opening quarter to put the Vikings up 6-0.
The Cougars’ run game responded on the ensuing drive. Tough running from Cody Stutsy and Chase Long keyed a 68-yard drive, which also included a key third down conversion on a 9-yard pass from Eli Allen to Ashton Goggins. Three bruising runs from Brandon Flake plus an offsides penalty took the Cougars to the North Pontotoc 1-yard line. They looked poised to tie things up or take the lead, but a huge momentum change occurred when North Pontotoc's Wesley Simmons jumped on a South fumble to thwart the scoring opportunity.
Four plays later, quarterback Reece Kentner connected with Kaden Wilson for a 81-yard touchdown at the 5:17 mark of the second quarter. Gavin Dyer booted the extra point through to make it 13-0.
“I think if they punch it in right there, then it is probably a different ballgame,” Crotwell said.
South (1-1) quickly went three-and-out, and the big plays continued for the Vikings. Kentner connected with Tyler Ford for 22 yards, and Hill hauled in a 59-yard score on a wheel route, breaking several tackles on his way to the end zone for a 20-0 lead. North’s defense gave the Vikings the ball back with just over a minute to play in the half. Wilson then struck again, hauling in a pass from Kentner and racing 76 yards to paydirt. After a point-after from Dyer, North led 27-0 lead at the half.
With a big lead, North ran the ball almost exclusively in the second half to run the clock. The Vikings took the first possession of the third 60 yards for a touchdown, with Booth scoring on a 12-yard run to make it 34-0.
Kentner completed 5 of 6 passes for 245 yards and 3 TDs. Wilson caught two passes for 158 and 2 TDs. Hill finished with 91 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards, with two TDs. Booth rushed for 83 yards and a score.
This was the second-straight shutout win in the rivalry series for the Vikings, who have now won three-straight overall.