BY JAMES BEASLEY
A look at the size of Copiah Academy’s and Jackson Prep’s football rosters caused one fan to compare the numbers to the Texans at the Alamo going up against Santa Anna’s Mexican army – and we all know that result. However, the Colonels didn’t go down without a fight as Prep finally prevailed 14-0 last Friday night in Gallman.
Facing a team that had lost to Pearl in double-overtime last week, CA, now 2-3, knew the Patriots would be trying to avenge their lone defeat, so that made the Colonel effort even more outstanding.
Copiah’s Bryce Guess recovered an onsides kick to open the game. After both teams swapped punts, the Colonels converted a first down on fourth-and-one near midfield. Two plays later, Prep’s Andrew Glaze recovered a CA fumble, but the Copiah defense held, forcing the Patriots to punt.
Moments later, the Colonels had to punt, but got the ball back when Colton Brown fell on a fumble that was caused by teammate Michael Williams. Prep got the ball back early in the second period and drove near midfield, but was again forced to punt.
Two runs by Copiah starting quarterback Ben Boone netted a first down, but the Patriot defense stiffened, and the Colonels had to punt. Prep had a long run nullified by a holding penalty and punted back to CA. Four plays later, Copiah punter Bryce Guess pinned Prep deep in its own territory with a 59-yard kick that rolled dead at the four.
Moments later, the Patriots’ Justin Keys raced 81 yards for an apparent touchdown, only to have it called back due to another holding penalty. Prep recovered a CA fumble near midfield in the final minute of the half, but Copiah defensive back Adam Pitts kept the game scoreless with an interception deep in Colonel territory in the waning seconds.
Prep finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third period, thanks to an 11-yard pass completion from quarterback Pack Toler to Hunter Wilkerson, and hard running from Keys and Toler. Keys capped the 7-play, 55-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run, and Cooper Simmons kicked the PAT to put the Patriots ahead 7-0.
Prep got the ball back and drove deep into Copiah territory, but Simmons’ 36-yard field goal attempt was short with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Patriots began a drive from their own 38 early in the final stanza that covered 62 yards in 9 plays, climaxed by Glaze’s 19-yard TD burst and Simmons’ PAT.
The gritty Colonels tried to rally as Boone connected with Russ Singleton for a 22-yard gain, then ran for a first down on fourth-and-three at the Prep 30. Kelton Smith also had several key runs during the 56-yard drive that finally ended when the Patriot defense stopped the Colonels on fourth-and-seven at the Prep 24-yard line.
Copiah got the ball one last time with just over a minute remaining. Boone’s 10-yard and 19-yard completions to Devin Harper and a 17-yard pass to Kelton Smith moved the ball to the Prep 12. From there, the Patriots’ Drew Carter intercepted a CA pass on the final play of the game to preserve the shutout.
Statistically, the Colonels played Prep to a virtual standstill, rushing for 130 yards compared to 141, netting 11 first downs compared to 14, and outgaining the Patriots 66 yards to 58 yards in the passing department. Boone led CA rushers with 17 carries for 45 yards, followed by Kelton Smith with 14 carries for 40 yards. Boone also had 66 yards passing, with Harper catching a pair of passes for 29 yards, Singleton one for 21 yards, and Kelton Smith one for 16. Defensively, the Colonels were led by Guess with 8 tackles, Boone with 6, and Williams and Drew Granger with 5 apiece.
“Every loss hurts,” Copiah head coach Scotty Cline admitted afterwards, “but the effort was there tonight. We’ve made strides in the past few weeks, and we’re getting better and better.” Copiah hosts Central Hinds for homecoming this Friday. Pre-game activities get underway about 6:30 PM, with the kickoff scheduled for 7:00 PM.