Thursday, October 27, 2011
Indians secure playoff spot
By CLAUDE VINSON
The Byhalia Indians solidly locked up their spot in the playoffs with a home win over M.S. Palmer last Friday night.
Playing with their first completely healthy roster since the first game of the season, the Indians began early to extinguish the Dragons’ flames. Palmer won the toss but deferred possession.
The kick went to Andrey Collins, who returned it for a touchdown but it was nullified. The Indians regrouped after the penalty and ran a counter play with the pigskin going to Devonte Norman, who trucked it 40 yards for a TD. Norman also scored the two points after to give the Indians the first lead of 8-0.
The Byhalia defense forced the Dragons into a punt situation. Collins returned the kick to midfield. He scored on his next carry and Norman added the two-point run for a 16-0 score.
Byhalia’s defense again stopped the ball and Terence Phinessee took a pitch out to the right and ran it into the end zone. He finished it off with the two-point conversion and a 24-0 lead for the Indians.
The Dragons, who had entered this contest with a 6-1 record, found some offense and moved the ball down field and then scored from 30 yards out. They picked up the two points and got on the board at 24-8. The first quarter expired with that score.
The second quarter saw a slow down in scoring action. Nearing the end of the period, the Indians called a play action pass and Markeise Rodgers tossed a 10-yard screen to Collins, who made it to the 5-yard line before he was stopped. Phinessee got the call and swept right with a handoff from Rodgers and went in for the TD. The Indians failed to convert and took a 30-8 lead into intermission.
The Dragons were on the receiving end to begin the third period and they scored after three running plays. They also converted for two to move closer at 30-16. The Dragons were not done; they forced Byhalia into a fourth down and then blocked the punt attempt. An alert Dragon scooped it up and ran it in for a score. They were six points behind after the conversion.
Coach Markeith Washington said, at that point “Collins took the game on his shoulders. He ran for 72 yards on our next play and then converted for two more. He gave us a healthy lead again at 38-24.”
After the Dragons fumbled the ball back to Byhalia a couple of minutes later, Collins led the way for the Indians to tack on another eight points making it 46-24.
The Indians started putting reserves into the lineup. The Dragons were able to score six more points but were shut down after that as Byhalia went on to the 56-30 victory.
Coach Washington named Collins as the game’s most valuable player, saying the back rushed 17 times for 404 yards and three TDs. Norman also had 17 carries for 167 yards and a pair of TDs and two extra points. Phinessee had 12 rushes for 68 yards and a trio of TDs and two conversions. Rodgers hit one of three pass tries for 10 yards and a score.
Overall the Indians rushed for 690 yards on 55 carries (705 total yards). To date, Byhalia has logged more than 4,000 on the ground, more than any other team in Mississippi, Washington said. Collins has accounted for 1,700 of those yards and Norman slightly over 1,000.
“We are proud to be heading to the playoffs with this kind of resume,” he said. “Our roster is completely healthy for the first time since the beginning of the season. The weather is changing and we think our running game will serve us well as we enter the playoffs for the second time in school history.
“We are also glad to finish up at North Panola. They beat us last season.”
Byhalia will travel to Region 3-3A opponent North Panola this Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
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