BOONEVILLE – Two time-consuming drives and a certain No. 62 equal two wins in two games against MHSAA Division 1-2A teams.
Behind a rushing game that produced 108 yards in the first half and the constant disruption by defensive lineman Casey Farris, Booneville High, the Daily Journal’s fifth-ranked Class 3A school, defeated fourth-ranked small school Baldwyn, 14-6, on Thursday night at Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Tiger Stadium.
That is three victories in a row for Booneville in the long-time Prentiss County rivalry.
“I knew coming into the game that Baldwyn was our biggest rival,” said Farris, whose team blanked Walnut, a division foe of Baldwyn’s, 33-0 in its season opener on the road last Friday. “This is my senior year, I know what I have to do.
“I knew the way Kossuth played them that I could do some damage tonight.”
Xzavier “Nupie” Rogers had 22 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns to lead the rushing attack.
Farris, meanwhile, had five sacks, two blocked punts and a fumble recovery for the Devils, who play ex-Division 1-3A rival Corinth on the road next Friday.
“He had the game of his life,” Blue Devils head coach Mike Mattox said of his senior lineman.
Rogers’ first score, an 8-yard run, came on his team’s opening possession, as the 5-foot-3, 124-pound back grinded out 26 yards on six carries.
That nine-play scoring drive, however, doesn’t even hail in comparison to its 14-play, 80-yard scoring march that chewed up 7 minutes and 48 seconds of the second quarter.
Before taking it in from a yard out, Rogers provided a nifty 27-yard run featuring two juke moves. Bryson Beene had an 11-yard run to set up the second touchdown of the night.
“I was pleased with us the first half,” Mattox said of his team’s offense. “We tried to tell them that they had a couple of easy scores there.
“I tried to tell them at halftime that they could either come out and keep doing what they did in the first half hard, or if we come out complacent we’re going to be in for a dogfight. And they didn’t listen to me.”
And as the Devils’ offense clicked, their defense overpowered the Bearcats, forcing three turnovers.
Even when a high snap on a punt resulted in the Bearcats starting out on the Booneville 11, the Bearcats couldn’t get any closer to the end zone.
“I just saw gaps, and that’s what I went after,” said Farris. “I knew I had to use my speed to get a hold of them and that’s what I got them with.”
The Bearcats did eventually find the end zone, via the pass, as quarterback Walker Wildmon found Will Moore, who slipped past the Booneville secondary, in the middle of the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown with 7:08 remaining in the third.
Even with three players going down with injuries – including the very athletic Reggie Patterson, a senior wideout, who went down with an apparent knee injury and starting punter Sean Baughman, who left the game with concussion-like symptoms – during Thursday’s game, the Bearcats almost came back to win.
“I don’t know if it was as much as what we did,” said Bearcats head coach Michael Gray, whose team changed defenses, stacking the box more, to limit the Blue Devils’ rushing attack in the second half. “I thought we played a little bit harder, but I think Booneville kind of throttled it down a little bit – that’s what Coach Mattox said after the game.
“He just thought they kind of let up a little bit, and we were able to expose them on some things.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal