BASSFIELD, MS (WDAM) - Apparently, even when it come to the football fortunes of defending state champions, sometimes it just takes a little while for the pieces to start locking into place.
A two-week rash of turnovers cost Jefferson Davis County dearly, contributing to consecutive losses against Wayne County and East Central high schools.
But Jefferson Davis County coach Lance Mancuso said the Jaguars have played better the past two weeks, including a 43-0 thumping of Franklin County High School Friday.
“We’ve had some ups and downs early in the year, but we’re starting to play a lot better right now,” Mancuso said. “We’ve kind of juggled some guys around, especially up front offensively.
“The key has been that we’ve been able to hang onto the ball lately. Against Wayne County, we turned it over five times and against East Central, we turned it over a couple times that really cost. But our young backs are really getting better and we’re starting to see some consistency up front.”
Two freshmen backs, Malcolm Hartzog and Demario Booth, combined for three touchdowns. Hartzog scored on a 48-yard punt return and a 51-yard run and Booth added a 1-yard TD run in the final period.
JDC’s more experienced backs did just fine as well. Junior Kyser Booth rushed 26 yards for one touchdown and caught a 62-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Michael Carraway.
Senior Justin Berry scored on a 25-yard run and senior Ricky Griffith added a two-point conversion run and also kicked three extra points.
“It’s the first time the same guys have started two weeks in a row up front,” Mancuso said, “so, we feel like we’ve finally settled in on the right five guys up. Hopefully, we can just continue to keep getting better moving forward.”
The Jaguars moved forward Friday, going up 21-0 after the first period and never looking back against Franklin County (0-6).
Jefferson Davis County (4-2), which won the Class 3A state championship last season, opens Region 8-3A play at 7 p.m. Friday when it visits Tylertown High School. The Chiefs (3-2) dropped a 21-14 decision Friday to Franklinton (La.) High School.
While the Jaguars may be rounding into shape for another late-season run, Mancuso said the road through Region 8-3A will be a rough, tough slog.
“I was talking with some people the other day, some other coaches, and I really think that the region will be more competitive than it’s ever been,” he said. “If you don’t play well, you’re going to be in trouble, there’s going to be a good team that’s likely not going to make the playoffs.”
LUMBERTON _ Sophomore running back Robert Henry scored twice, once on an 80-yard kickoff return, and senior running back Davion Edwards also ran for two touchdowns as the Panthers rolled to remain unbeaten.
Lumberton opened Region 4-1A play in dominant fashion, grabbing a 21-0 lead after one period and leading 42-0 at halftime.
Henry ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries and Edwards went for 46 yards and two scores on just three attempts. Sophomore Trevion Jessie contributed 48 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Senior quarterback Jared Tribett completed 6-of-8 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Daylan Young had two catches for 79 yards and a touchdown and senior Claudio Williams grabbed a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Freshman Shavante Toney returned a fumble 27 yards for another Lumberton touchdown, and junior place-kicker Jake Robinson contributed seven extra points.
The Pirates managed just 163 yards against Lumberton, with two freshmen providing most of the production.
Quandarius Hubbard ran for 712 yards a touchdown on 14 carries and Marcus Baggett added 55 yards and a score on 14 carries.
The Panthers (5-0, 1-0 Region 4-1A) will host East Marion High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Eagles (2-3, 1-0) defeated Salem High School 42-0 Friday in the region opener for both schools.
Mount Olive (0-6, 0-1) will host Salem High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats (1-5, 0-1) lost 42-0 at East Marion High School at 7 p.m. Friday.
RICHTON _ Junior quarterback Dylan Favre threw for 305 yards and six touchdowns, four of them to senior Za’darius Mitchell, as the Rebels tamed the Bulldogs Friday night.
Mitchell finished with six catches for 233 yards and four scores, senior Connor Graham had two catches for 47 yards and a touchdown and junior Brennon Shattles grabbed an 18-yard touchdown pass. Mitchell and Favre also hooked up a two-point conversion.
Senior D.D. Griffin ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns Favre had 86 yards on eight carries and senior Zach Mills ripped off a 30-yard run on his one carry.
Richton led 22-8 after one quarter and 41-15 at halftime as the Rebels posted its highest scoring game of the season.
Richton (4-2) will visit Perry Central High School at 7 p.m. Friday to open Region 8-2A play. The Bulldogs (2-4) fell 42-0 at Taylorsville High School Friday.
TAYLORSVILLE _ Senior running back Kenton Bass and sophomore running back Jeffrey Pittman each scored a pair of touchdowns as the unbeaten Tartars jumped on the Bulldogs early and often.
Taylorsville led 21-0 after one quarter and 42-0 at halftime. The only points of the second half came when Taylorsville junior Travis Keyes recorded a safety.
Sophomore quarterback Ty Keyes completed 7-of-10 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore backup Karson Evans completed 4-of-7 attempts for another 45 yards.
Bass ran for 38 yards and two scores on seven carries and caught a 51-yard pass from Keyes. Junior Zylon Hicks ran for 45 yards on eight carries.
Pittman, who ran for 53 yards and a touchdown on three carries, caught a 20-yard TD pass from Keyes. Senior Raven Arrington caught Keyes’ other scoring pass, a 75-yard hookup.
The Tartars added another touchdown when senior C.J. Williams returned a fumble for a score.
Taylorsville (6-0) will open Region 5-2A play at 7 p.m. in a Thursday night special against Bay Springs High School. The Bulldogs (4-2) dropped a 34-27 decision to Quitman High School Friday night.
Perry Central (2-4) will welcome Richton High School a 7 p.m. Friday for the Perry County Super Bowl. The Rebels (4-2) rolled up Clarkdale High School 54-23 Friday.
ELLISVILLE _ Special teams and defensive scores kept the Golden Tornadoes lingering long enough for the offense to kick in during the second half against the home-standing Braves.
South Jones senior quarterback John Mitchell had the Braves leading 17-14 at halftime on his touchdown runs of 15 yards and 1 yard and a 21-yard field goal by junior Mark Diers.
But Laurel was able to stay in the game thanks to a 49-yard interception return for a score by senior outside linebacker Javion Smith and a 99-yard kickoff return by senior defensive back/cornerback Levi Walker.
The second half belonged to the Golden Tornadoes. Senior running backs Zias Perryman (25-yard run) and Michael Terrell (12-yard run) turned in third-quarter scoring runs and junior Amir Smith added a 48-yard touchdown run in the fourth period.
Laurel got a 31-yard scoring pass from senior Sinclair Ulmer to sophomore Bryce Page to wrap up the Golden Tornadoes’ scoring.
Dier’s 25-yard field goal was the lone score the Braves could muster in the second half.
Both teams will continue Region 3-5A competition this week.
Laurel (2-3, 1-0) will host Brookhaven High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Panthers (4-1, 1-0) topped North Pike High School 27-14 in the region opener for both.
The Braves (3-3, 0-1) travel to Forest Hill High School at 7 p.m. Friday. The Patriots (1-5, 0-1) dropped their region opener 21-0 Friday to West Jones High School.