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By BRAD CROWE
The Greene County Wildcats have been quite the highwaymen as of late, singing to the tune of two straight road wins to wrap up their non-district schedule. This Friday they’ll be on the road again, kicking off district play with another tough challenge awaiting them in Bay St. Louis.
The Perry Central Bulldogs gave Greene County all it could handle last Friday, but head coach Mike King’s Wildcats made big plays in crucial moments that led to a 35-21 win on the road.
“I told them in the pregame to not expect it to be easy (to prevent) not realizing we would have to battle as hard as we did,” King said.
GCHS held a 14-13 lead at halftime thanks to a 25-yard TD run by sophomore Keenan Franks and a 20-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Conner West to sophomore B.J. Johnson, but felt they should have had more as a controversial call erased what appeared to be a touchdown scored by senior Wildcat Cam Dunnam. The Wildcat faithful in attendance were upset by the call, but King said it was his team’s poise and response to the adversity that ultimately made the biggest difference.
“At halftime we talked about learning to finish a ball game, and I think we did that,” King said. “I was very pleased with the way we responded to all of the miscues. Several calls did not go our way and we had a couple turnovers as well. Our guys could’ve easily hung their heads, but they kept playing through it all. I’m very proud of them.”
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the third quarter to take their first lead of the night at 21-14. But, GCHS fought back to take control of the game after that.
A second rushing score by Franks tied the game and just five scoreboard minutes later a TD pass from West to Dunnam put GCHS ahead for good.
West connected on a deep ball to Johnson late in the fourth quarter and Johnson’s impressive grab set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Dallarus Cooper to extend the Wildcats’ lead and secure the win.
Region play gets underway with trip to Bay High
Throughout all the challenges the Wildcats have faced in September, district play was always on their minds. This week they’ll begin fighting for a spot in the playoffs with their region opener at Bay High. The 4-1 Tigers present a physical opponent for the Cats with a strong running game.
“Bay is very big up front on the offensive and defensive line,” King said. “But, if we want a chance to be successful, we will have to stop their big running back Noah Cutter.”
The proof is in the numbers for Cutter, who through five weeks has averaged 113 yards per game on 7.5 yards per carry. He also averages 20.3 yards per catch and has a team-high 13 touchdowns for the Tigers.
“He’s a load when he runs the football,” King added. “He has a pretty unique combination of size and speed.”
Though it may seem as if the road goes on forever, the Wildcats will be back in Leakesville for three consecutive home games starting next week, and their hope is to return with momentum on their side after a third straight win over the Tigers.