By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SHANNON – Chad Cook must think luck is pretty fickle.
In three losses, his Shannon Red Raiders had 14 turnovers.
Against the Itawamba AHS Indians Friday, the Red Raiders had two defensive touchdowns in a 35-18 victory in a Division 1-4A contest.
“Against Tupelo, Aberdeen, and Lafayette, we didn’t make plays,” said Cook, the Shannon head coach. “Now we are, and it shows a sign of maturity.”
Also pretty fickle was the way Shannon (4-3, 2-0) achieved its win.
The Shannon offense had two first downs for the entire contest. And the shortest touchdown for the Raiders was a 34-yard fumble return by a defensive lineman.
“For some reason, we block like 7th graders,” Cook said. “Our last two games, seniors have had to make plays.
“I’d hate to see what would happen if we didn’t make plays. The effort is there, but we need to block.”
Shannon’s big plays began on its first possession as quarterback John Thomas Peugh found an open Nick Pack on a long third-down conversion that turned into a 71-yard touchdown.
Then on Itawamba’s first possession, defensive back Quavay Kohlheim grabbed an errant pass and raced 71 yards for the score and a quick 14-0 lead for the Raiders.
“The defense played hard in the first half,” Cook said. “We were trying to prevent them from making the big plays.”
Indians haul one home
Special teams finally kick-started the Indians (4-3, 0-2). Shante Rogers hauled in a punt, tried the left sideline, then reversed his direction and ran around the Raiders for a 47-yard TD late in the first quarter.
But Shannon still had plenty of big-yardage efforts left.
Midway through the second quarter, Pack took a hand-off as a wingback, catching the Indians pursuing the other direction, and raced 63 yards for a touchdown. Then lineman Zederick Nabors scooped up a fumble and returned it 34 yards to give Shannon a 28-6 halftime lead.
IAHS came out of the intermission with a bit more focus, scoring on its first play of the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Charles Moore. Then on the second play of the fourth quarter, IAHS scored on a 27-yard pass from Tyler Dossett to Rogers to pull within 28-18.
“Give Itawamba credit, they were making some plays out there,” Cook said. “I thought stopping them on that two-point conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter was big because it really hurt their momentum.”