HATTIESBURG _ The education of Hattiesburg High School junior quarterback Jarod Conner continued along a very productive path Friday night.
Not to mention a balanced path as well.
Conner, who is five games into his career as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, accounted for six touchdowns _ three passing, three rushing _ as Hattiesburg rolled past Gautier High School 56-13 to open Region 4-5A play at D.I. Patrick Stadium.
“He’s getting better in the passing game, making better decisions with the ball,” Hattiesburg coach Tony Vance said. “But thing that stands out to me as a coach is that through five ballgames, we have one offensive turnover.
“If you go back and look, and we had three takeaways (Friday) night, we have 16 or 17 takeaways to one turnover, and when you do that, you give yourself a great chance to win games … To me, that’s one of the biggest (statistics) that doesn’t get mentioned enough.”
Conner completed 9 of 16 passes for 194 yards, including touchdown passes to seniors William Robinson and Raheem Willis and junior Darius Ruffin.
Conner, a former running back, also rushed for 95 yards on 14 carries.
The Tigers (5-0, 1-0 Region 4-5A) led 7-0 after one quarter, then outscored the Gators (1-4, 0-1) 42-13 over the middle two periods.
“We didn’t play our best, but we did enough to win the ballgame and put it out of reach,” Vance said. “(Region) play is here, and glad to be 1-0. That’s the biggest thing, get one in that win column as opposed to one in the loss column. That’s huge for you, regardless who you play.”
Senior Fabian Franklin rushed for 43 yards and touchdown on seven carries and junior Drexlan Allen had 58 yards and a score on 12 carries for the Tigers.
Ruffin caught four passes for 71 yards and ran for 32 yards on his lone carry. Willis had two catches for 60 yards and Robinson made his lone, 9-yard catch count for six points.
Hattiesburg will host Stone High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Tomcats (3-1, 1-0) opened region play with a 45-26 win over West Harrison High School Friday. Stone led the entire game, but held just a 21-19 lead at halftime and 28-26 after three quarters before outscoring West Harrison 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
“Last year, they gave us a run for our money,” Vance said of Stone. “We were fortunate to jump on them early last and kind of dictate the flow of the game. We’ve got to figure out a way to try and do the same thing this year.
“This year, I think they’re a lot better than last year. It’s the second year with their head coach (John Featser) and he does a great job. They’ve kind of taken on his personality.”
Oak Grove 17, George County 7
LUCEDALE _ Sophomore quarterback Jon Rhys Plumlee played for the first time since Sept. 1 after injuring the thumb of his non-throwing hand and sparked the Warriors to a pair of second-half touchdowns.
Junior defensive back Jarius Reimonenq led a stellar defensive effort with four interceptions, and the Warriors (4-1, 1-0 Region 3-6A) recorded 11 sacks in the region opener for both teams.
Senior defensive end Jaden Crumedy and junior defensive end Jack Harris each had four sacks and in his first start at noseguard, junior Jeremiah Pittman collected two more. Senior linebacker Hayes Maples rounded out the sack attack with one.
“I’d be interested to know what those two records are for a game,” Oak Grove coach Drew Causey said. “The defense played really well.”
Plumlee, who was injured on a leaping touchdown run against Laurel High School, missed Oak Grove’s Sept.8 game with Hattiesburg High School and the Warriors had an open date on Sept. 15.
Plumlee entered the game late in the second quarter with the Warriors clinging to a 3-0 lead against the Rebels (1-5, 0-1). He played with a cast protecting his injured thumb.
“He was rusty,” Oak Grove High coach Drew Causey said. “He hadn’t done much since Laurel, hadn’t done a lot of things or gotten really any live reps, so I expected him to be rusty.
“We didn’t want to play him, but we had to, and now, he’s got the rust knocked off and he’ll be ready to go next week.”
Plumlee scored on an 8-yard touchdown in the third quarter and junior running back Tyler Taylor added a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter. Brennan Sobiesk had a first-quarter field goal and kicked two extra points.
The Warriors will welcome archrival Petal High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Panthers (3-2, 0-1) battled the top-ranked team in the state, Pearl High School, down to the wire Friday night before falling 14-3.
West Jones 26, Forest Hill 0
JACKSON _ The Mustangs defense not only pitched a shutout, but scored on a fumble recovery, an interception return and a safety in the Region 3-5A opener for both schools.
Freshman Cedric Bender returned an interception 98 yards for a score and sophomore Jaylen Keyes recovered a fumble in the end zone for West Jones (3-2, 1-0).
The Mustangs led 2-0 after one quarter and 12-0 at halftime.
Senior running back Austin Land gouged the Patriots (1-4, 0-1) for 115 yards on 23 carries, while senior quarterback Peyton Brown completed 4 of 7 passes for 64 yards and touchdown with an interception.
Senior receiver Garrick Randolph had three catches for 59 yards and a score. Junior kicker Walker Thompson knocked through his only field-goal attempt of the evening as well as three extra points.
The Mustangs will host Natchez High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (4-1, 1-0) defeated Jackson Wingfield High School Friday night 31-6.
North Forrest 20, Heidelberg 6
Daylyn Croom threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for a third as the Eagles won their fourth consecutive game by drilling the Oilers in Eatonville.
Croom gave North Forrest (4-2) a 6-0 lead in the first quarter with a rushing touchdown before Heidelberg (3-3) tied the score on Tyrese Cooley’s run early in the second quarter.
But Croom connected with Ryhen Brisco with a touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 12-6 halftime lead and then found Jalen Grant with a third-quarter touchdown pass. Croom’s two-point conversion pass wrapped up the scoring.
The Eagles will open Region 8-2A play at 7 p.m. Friday by welcoming St. Patrick Catholic High School. The Fighting Irish (2-3) dropped a 22-20 decision Friday to Bogue Chitto High School.
The Oilers will travel to fellow Class 2A rival Collins High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Tigers (4-2) won their fourth consecutive game Friday night with a 32-12 victory over Lawrence County High School.