WAYNESBORO _ When Tony Vance looks at Hattiesburg High School’s record this football season, he acknowledges the eight consecutive victories next to the Tigers’ name in the standings.
But, peering at the mark through the eyes of a coach, Vance sees 1-0, eight straight times.
Cliché it may be, but the one-game-at-a-time mantra that Vance and his fellow coaches have preached to the Tigers has worked beyond fine, and as the sayin’ goes, ‘If it ain’t broke…’
Hattiesburg continued its winning ways Friday night, outscoring Wayne County High School 31-6 in the game’s middle two quarters that spurred a 60-18 Region 4-5A win at War Eagle Stadium.
“We’re trying to treat every game as the ‘next game,’ and our goal is to be 1-0 after every game,” Vance said. “Our objective is week to week. We’re tough on them. We try to keep them grounded because it’s a grind.
“We’ve still got work to do, and the biggest thing is we can’t beat us. We can’t be the ones to beat Hattiesburg.”
Junior quarterback Jarod Conner sparked the Tigers (8-0, 4-0 Region 4-5A), completing 15 of 23 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 138 yards and four scores on 17 carries.
“He’s not doing things he can’t do,” Vance said. “We gameplan things within our system, and he’s done what we’ve asked him to do.
“He’s a great kid, and I’ve said this several times before, but he’s just an awesome young man to be around. I can’t say enough about him, and he’s surrounded by some really great players that make his job a lot easier.”
Players like senior D’Andre Humbles, who caught a 65-yard touchdown pass and returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
Junior Darius Ruffin caught four passes for 90 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown, and senior Raheem Willis caught a two-point conversion pass.
Junior running back Drexlan Allen ran for 15 yards on four carries, including touchdown runs of 4 yards and 3 yards. Senior Fabian Franklin had 43 yards on 10 carries.
Hattiesburg’s defense came up with four interceptions and recovered a fumble and the Tigers’ starting unit allowed Wayne County (4-4, 2-2) just six points on quarterback Joshua Page’s 20-yard scoring run before taking a seat for the rest of the evening.
Vance said he and his players were grateful for a large contingent of Hattiesburg fans who made the trip to Waynesboro Friday.
“Kudos to the crowd,” Vance said. “The kids fed off that and I really appreciate having all those people there.”
Both teams will continue in region play Friday, with Wayne County hosting West Harrison High School at 7 p.m. The Hurricanes (1-7, 0-4) lost 34-27 Friday to Pearl River Central High School.
Hattiesburg will remain on the road, travelling for a 4-5A showdown with Picayune High School. The Maroon Tide (7-1, 4-0) defeated Long Beach High School 47-26 Friday.
“They beat us by one two years ago and by seven, I think, last year, so it’s been a dogfight the last two years, and we expect the same thing this year,” Vance said. “We expect them to give us their best shot, and we’re going to give them our best shot.
“We understand the implications for the playoff race in this game. We understand the significance of it. Hosting a home playoff game is at stake, the opportunity to win the (region) is at stake. But that being said, it’s the next game, and we’re going to treat it just like we have all the others. It’s the next game.”
West Jones 17, Laurel 7
SOSO _ Junior quarterback Dusty Cook threw a pair of touchdowns to senior Garrick Randolph Friday and senior Austin Land rushed for 168 yards on 36 carries as the Mustangs won their fifth consecutive game.
The Mustangs (6-2, 4-0 Region 3-5A) have allowed just 8.8 points per game during the winning streak and held a 10-0 lead heading into the final quarter.
Laurel (4-4, 2-2) cut the deficit to 10-7 early in the fourth quarter, but Cook found Randolph with their second TD pass of the game and West Jones’ defense made the lead stand up.
The Mustangs defense came up with three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
Cook completed 9 of 14 passes for 140 yards and the two touchdowns and threw an interception. Randolph had four catches for 43 yards.
Junior Walker Thomas kicked a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter for the only points of the first half.
West Jones will visit South Jones High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Braves (7-2, 3-1) defeated North Pike High School 45-13 Friday.
Laurel will host Forest Hill High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Patriots (1-7, 0-4) lost 34-25 to Jackson Wingfield High School Friday.
Perry Central 40, St. Patrick 7
NEW AUGUSTA _ Senior Chris Sumrall rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and was one of five Bulldogs to run for score Friday as Perry Central remained unbeaten.
Perry Central (8-0, 2-0 Region 8-2A) led 13-7 after one quarter, and then opened up the lead to 27-7 at halftime, shutting out the Fighting Irish (2-6, 0-3) over the last three quarters.
Senior Mckail Sumrall rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown as the Bulldogs rushed for 378 yards. All told, Perry Central piled up 420 yards total offense.
Senior quarterback Tijuane Bolton ran for 72 yards and two scores on six carries, senior Taye Hartfield added 38 yards and a touchdown on four carries and junior Derrick Hartfield had 15 yards and a score on just two carries. Senior Tevon Bolton had 11 yards on two carries.
Tijuane Bolton completed 3 of 7 passes for 42 yards. Junior Neklyn Moody caught two passes for 40 yards and Mckail Sumrall had one catch for 2 yards.
Senior Tyree Bolton led the Bulldogs with seven tackles, while senior Chris Brownlee and juniors Jaren Handy and Kevin Lindsey each had four tackles.
Perry Central will travel to Collins High School at 7 p.m. Friday in Region 8-2A showdown. The Tigers (7-2, 2-0) won their seventh consecutive game Friday, defeating Richton High School 41-0.
Stringer 53, Salem 7
TYLERTOWN _ Junior defensive back Connor Hicks scored the first points of the game Friday on a 25-yard interception return and three Red Devils combined to throw for four touchdowns as Stringer won its eighth consecutive game.
The Red Devils (8-1, 3-0 Region 4-1A) led 27-0 after one quarter and 41-0 at halftime.
Junior running back Anthony Thomas scored on a 48-yard run and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to junior Keyshaun Dease, both in the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Cayleb Dyess connected with senior Reece Barber on a 15-yard scoring pass in the first quarter and the duo hooked up again in the second quarter on a 38-yard score.
Eighth-grader Jackson Parker and junior Christian Ansley combined on a 65-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Sophomore Cooper Rogers scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter and senior Corbin Ainsworth added a 14-yard run in the final period.
Salem (0-9, 0-4) scored on a pass in the fourth quarter.
The Red Devils will host East Marion High School Friday at 7 p.m. in region contest. The Eagles (4-4, 2-1) dropped a 56-44 decision at Class 2A North Forrest High School Friday.