BASSFIELD _ Columbia High School coach James Harvey stood near the 50-yard line of Howard L. Willoughby Friday night watching his Wildcats wrap up the ritualistic postgame congratulations with Jefferson Davis County High School.
“Rough night,” Harvey said.
Jefferson Davis County started slowly, watching as visiting Columbia took a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter on a well-designed and even better-executed, old-fashioned screen play.
But the Jaguars roared to life, regaining the lead on their next possession and then stretching it to 19 points at halftime before dominating the second half and finish with a 46-7 Region 8-3A victory.
Jefferson Davis County (8-1, 3-0 Region 8-3A) won their fifth consecutive game while Columbia (3-5, 1-2) dropped their second in a row.
“I don’t think we played with a whole lot of intensity in the first half,” Jefferson Davis County coach Lance Mancuso said. “At halftime, we just talked about, ‘Enjoy the moment, have fun, it’s high school football, get excited and make the most of every opportunity.
“They seemed to come out and play at little faster pace in the second half than they did the first half and I was really proud of them for that.”
Not that the Jaguars were schlubbing around in the first half, exactly.
Jefferson Davis County took a 6-0 lead after one quarter when sophomore wingback Kyser Booth ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-6,
After stopping a Jaguars’ drive on downs that had pierced Columbia’s 30-yard line, junior quarterback Javen Moss drew Jefferson Davis County’s defensive front to him before looping a screen pass to sophomore running back Kentrel Bullock.
Bullock got two, crunching blocks, one on the edge and another downfield and took the pass 68 yards for the score and Harrison Foxowrth’s extra point gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead with 9 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the second quarter.
After that, though, it was all Jaguars.
Sophomore quarterback Lyric Hall capped a 68-yard drive with a 30-yard scoring pass to senior Ronald Baker that gave JDC a 12-6 lead, and after a shanked, 21-yard from Columbia’s end zone set up the Jaguars at the Wildcats’ 24-yard line.
Senior Demazie Mikell popped through for a touchdown on the first snap, and junior Darrell Posey barreled into the end zone on a two-point conversion run to put the Jaguars up 20-7.
JDC got the ball back with 2:19 left in the first half at its own 33-yard line. Booth slashed for 17 yards on third-and-5 to keep the drive alive and Hall hit a 15-yard pass to Washington and a 37-yarder to senior Joe Applewhite to get down to Columbia’s 3-yard line.
On the second play, Booth scored on a 4-yard run to leave the Jaguars up 26-7 at halftime.
“We knew it would be a challenge coming in,” Harvey said. “I thought we had a little momentum there in the first half. Our defense played well in the first quarter, but once they got it going, it kind of snowballed on us.”
Booth had runs of 48 yards and 42 yards in the third quarter, the latter capping a 67-yard drive that opened the second half and pushed the lead to 33-7.
Booth would run for 182 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries. All told, the Jaguars would rush for 355 yards and finish with 446 yards total offense.
“Our guards, they pull very well and I just know when to cut up,” Booth said. “I’m cutting off them.
“This game was very important. Coach told us we needed to beat them, that it was time for us to get into the playoffs.”
Junior Justin Berry had 37 yards on five carries, including a 26-yard scoring run and junior Toddrick Reese added a 3-yard touchdown run.
Columbia had trouble moving the football, especially on the ground, where the Jaguars held the Wildcats to minus 14 yards on 23 carries. Moses threw for 141 yards, but Columbia netted just 12 yards total offense.
“Our defense has played well all year,” Mancuso said. “We gave up a lot of points early in the season, but our offense was turning it over, averaging 6 ½ turnovers a game. We just kept them on the field too much.
“When our offense has been able to move the sticks, eat some clock up and give our defense some time to catch its breath, they’re pretty darn good on that side of the ball.”
Both JDC and Columbia continue Region 8-3A play next week.
Columbia will host West Marion High School at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Trojans (4-5, 2-1) beat visiting Wesson High School 28-19 Friday.
The Jaguars travel to Seminary High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (4-5, 1-2) lost at Tylertown High School Friday.