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By RUSSELL TURNER
The GCHS Wildcats not only got the win against visiting Quitman on Friday, they did so by getting big time performances from a handful of players stepping into some new roles.
The Wildcats got another big game from sophomore K.J. Miller, but also got key offensive production from senior Dre Grice and freshmen Kennan Franks and B.J. Johnson. On the defensive side, the Wildcats not only notched the first shutout at the school for defensive coordinator Timmy Story, they also forced a defensive safety, essentially providing all the points GCHS needed to get the win.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well,” said GCHS Head Coach Rotch Dungan, whose team improved to 2-0. “We cut down on our mistakes and had some guys step up.”
“We still have a lot of areas that we need to improve and we need to be more consistent in some areas, but we also saw a lot of good things we can hopefully build on moving forward.”
Miller provided the explosive spark for the Wildcats’ offense with 130 total yards and two touchdowns. Miller did most of his damage in the running game with 12 carries for 123 and both scores.
The Wildcats also got a big night from Grice who stepped up in the place of junior Dalarrus Cooper, who continued to be hampered by an ankle injury and saw limited action. Grice made the most of his opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, rushing for 65 yards and a TD on nine carries and adding five yards on a reception out of the backfield.
“We were limited a bit on play selection with Grice because he just hasn’t had a lot of time in the offense, but he competed well and had a big night for us,” Dungan said. “I thought both our quarterbacks played better this week and we did a better job catching the ball.”
Overall, GCHS put up 294 total yards against the Panthers. Franks spent the most time at quarterback for the Wildcats and completed 3-of-5 passes for 14 yards and his 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter started the scoring for the Cats. Johnson had just three carries but looked solid gaining 25 yards.
Junior Cam Dunnam gained just seven yards on three carries but came up big in the passing game with three catches for 26 yards. Junior Josh Nicholson was sharp in his time at quarterback, completing all five of his pass attempts for 30 yards and leading the offense on its final scoring drive of the game.
Defensively, the Wildcats were led by junior linebacker Ethan Roberts who recorded his best game to date, according to coaches. Roberts set the tone with his aggressiveness and led the team with eight solo tackles. Week one’s leading tackler, junior linebacker Keaton Hollinghead, had another big game and finished right behind Roberts with six solo stops and an assist.
Senior Anthony London finished with five tackles, while B.J. Johnson, Grice and junior J.T. Dunnam each added four.
The defense also put points on the board after a well-executed punt pinned Quitman back on their own goal line early in the fourth quarter. Senior Zane Turner and sophomore Camron McBeth teamed up for the tackle for the safety, but senior defensive tackle Dugan McClelland deserves equal credit, according to Coach Story, as it was his execution at the line of scrimmage that forced the Panther ball carrier back into the endzone in the first place. Of course, the punt by Conner West and the coverage by
Braden Brewer to corral the ball at the Panther’s 2-yard-line set the table for the 2-point play.
CHECK OUT IMAGES FROM THE GAME IN OUR QUITMAN PHOTO GALLERY!
Gautier matchup cancelled
The Wildcats looked pretty good on their home turf for the first two weeks of the season. Unfortunately, they won’t get to adjust to taking their show on the road until they head to Sumrall on Oct. 2 for their region opener against the Bobcats.
This Friday’s scheduled matchup with Gautier was supposed to be the Cats’ final warm-up before starting region play, but that game has been cancelled. GCHS will now take a bye week off and begin putting their focus on the Bobcats.