CATEGORY: FOL High School Football

AUTHOR: WHEELE

SHANNON HAMMERS OKOLONA

By D.E. Wheeler

Daily Journal

SHANNON - With schools sometimes changing classifications or divisions every two years, a rivalry can lose some of its charm.

Not in Northeast Mississippi, however, as the Shannon Red Raiders and the Pontotoc Warriors demonstrated Friday night. Pontotoc played its former division foe tough, but could not keep up with the Shannon big-play offense as the Red Raiders rushed to a 35-14 win.

"They have a big-play offense, and they were making big plays tonight," Pontotoc coach Dennis Robbins said. "We had a couple of chances to score and we had turnovers that hurt us."

Needing to single out one of those Pontotoc turnovers as key would find the Raiders (6-0) leading 28-14 with the Warriors driving early in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-9 from the Shannon 16, Pontotoc quarterback Kelley McWhirter lofted ball towards the goal line.

Jeff Wilson stood his ground and picked off the McWhirter offering, giving the Raiders the ball at their own 4-yard line with 9 minutes, 22 second left to play. The very first snap by the Shannon offense following the turnover saw running back Chris Lockridge burst through the Warrior defense on a quick pitch and ramble 75 yards before being caught from behind.

"The run by Lockridge was a big one," Shannon coach Mike Scott said. "They took away our inside running game, but coach (Porter) Casey had come up with a sweep that we installed last week.

"That was a great run."

Four plays later, quarterback Cory Johnson sneaked over from 1-yard out, and Kerry Edwards kick made the score 35-14.

A good return on the opening kick by Reggie Rucker and a 33-yard run by Nick Floyd set up the first score of the game, for Pontotoc. Floyd sprung a counter play from six yards out, and Brent Ratliff's kick gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead.

Shannon's offense took up the challenge and had a good opening possession of its own. A fourth down run of five yards by Lockridge was followed by a 33-yard pass from Johnson to Geraud Warren for a 7-7 score.

Pontotoc's first turnover was also key, an interception by Darius Ryan. That was preceded by a 32-yard TD run by Floyd that was called back due to an illegal blocking penalty.

Lockridge, who rushed for 184 yards, rambled for 38 of those in the second quarter, scoring with 8>53 left in the half for a 14-7 Shannon lead. The Raiders put one more score up before the half, a 6-yard pass from Johnson to Joseph Thompson.

The second half saw Pontotoc (2-3) cut the margin down to a touchdown with a 9-yard run by Floyd midway through the third period. But Johnson hooked up with Warren again for a 16-yard score with 1:34 left in the quarter, and the Shannon defense was able to keep Pontotoc out of the end zone the rest of the way.

"Tonight we stepped it up and played four solid quarters." Scott said. "And that was good to see with our division play starting next week."

Johnson managed 260 yards passing and added 107 yards rushing for Shannon.

Shannon 35, Pontotoc 14

Pontotoc 7 0 7 0 - 14

Shannon 7 14 7 7 - 35

First Quarter

P - Floyd 7-yard run (Ratliff kick), 9:22

S - Warren 33-yard pass from Johnson (Edwards kick), 6:43

Second Quarter

S - Lockridge 38-yard run (Edwards kick), 8:53

S - Thompson 6-yard pass from Johnson (Edwards kick)

Third Quarter

P - Floyd 9-yard run (Ratliff kick), 5:09

S - Warren 6-yard pass from Johnson (Edwards kick), 1:34

Fourth Quarter

S - Johnson 1-yard run (Edwards kick), 7:44

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