Colonels stung by Yellow Jackets in opener
By James Beasley
“Turnovers!” Copiah Academy head coach Scotty Cline exclaimed Friday night after his Colonels lost their opener to the Oak Forest Yellowjackets 32-14 in Gallman. “You can’t have five turnovers and expect to win many games.”Actually the game was closer than the final score indicated. Oak Forest’s Rhase Riggins took the opening kickoff back to the CA 27. From there, the Jackets scored in 7 plays, with the touchdown coming on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Carter Capdeboscq to Matthew Gill. The PAT attempt was wide left, and Oak Forest led 6-0 with 9:04 left in the first period.
Grant Anderson returned the ensuing kickoff 13 yards to the 35-yard line. Consecutive passes from quarterback Ryan Drew to Dillon Martin gave the Colonels a first down at the OF 45. On the next play, Drew hit Bryce Berry with a long pass over the middle down to the two. Sam Stevens scored from there, but the TD was nullified by an illegal motion penalty. Copiah couldn’t punch it in on 4 tries, and the Jackets took over on their one midway through the quarter.
After the teams swapped possessions, Oak Forest scored again early in the second period on a 60-yard pass play from Capdeboscq to Tyler Cutrer. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Jackets led 12-0.
The Colonels responded with a drive of their own, marching 80 yards in 7 plays, with Drew scoring from the two on a quarterback sneak. Big plays along the way included a trio of receptions by Bryce Berry, whose leaping catch surrounded by 3 defenders picked up 34 yards. Thomas Roberson kicked the PAT, and CA trailed 12-7 with 7:53 left in the half.
Copiah’s Ty Quick recovered a Jacket fumble near midfield in the final minutes of the half, but the Colonels couldn’t cash in and were forced to punt.
CA got another break early in the third quarter when Dillon Holloway recovered an Oak Forest fumble at his own 41-yard line. However, three plays later, a Colonel pass was tipped and intercepted by Riggins, who took it all the way down to the Copiah 20. Moments later, Capdeboscq passed to Gill in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. Zach Kent added the PAT, and the Jackets led 19-7 midway through the third period.
On the Colonels’ ensuing possession, Drew connected with Martin for gains of 20 and 15 yards, respectively, before being intercepted by Garrett Payne at the Oak Forest 11. Copiah’s defense held, and Berry returned the Jackets’ punt to the OF 45. From there, the Colonels scored in 8 plays, with Drew passing to Justin Edwards for the 19-yard TD. Key plays on the drive were a 12-yard pass completion to Martin and an 11-yard completion to Berry on fourth down. Roberson kicked the PAT, cutting the Jackets’ lead to 19-14 heading into the final quarter.
CA’s Jake Risher, who returned from boot camp just in time to play, recovered an OF fumble at his own 40, but the Jackets’ Dylan Dover intercepted a Copiah pass on the next play and returned it 55 yards for a TD to give Oak Forest a 25-14 lead with 8:57 left. The Jackets tacked on another touchdown after Trevor Besse picked off another pass deep in CA territory. Riggins scored on a one-yard plunge with 5 minutes remaining, and Kent added the PAT to account for the final margin.
The Colonels tried to salvage some pride with a final drive, but Dave Smith stopped the threat when he recovered a fumble in the Jackets’ end zone with 30 seconds left.
“I think the difference was we were able to play a lot of people,” said Oak Forest head coach Jason Brabham, now in his 12th season. “We had a lot of unknowns going in, but we overcame our mistakes. They have a great team and played hard, but the difference was the fourth quarter.”
Copiah had several bright spots. Sophomore Ryan Drew completed 19 of 36 passes for 209 yards and a TD, despite throwing 4 interceptions. Bryce Berry had 8 catches for 124 yards, while fellow wide receiver Dillon Martin had 9 catches for 65 yards. Doug Strait led the CA defense with 11 tackles.
“We should have scored early,” Cline said in a postgame interview. “We were still within striking distance in the fourth quarter and had our chances. We feel like we can throw the ball, but we’ve got to do a better job across the front protecting the passer.”
The Colonels will get an opportunity to make those adjustments before they head south to Brookhaven Academy this Friday night at 7:00 PM. Unfortunately, they will have to face the Cougars without senior Austin Stringer, who broke his arm late in the first quarter.