Blue Devils shake off the rust and the slop in battle of unbeatens

BOONEVILLE – Veteran Booneville head coach Jim Drewry called his Blue Devils’ execution Monday “sloppy.”
But in the end, the Booneville defense neatly wrapped up the Walnut Wildcats for a 26-7 victory in a battle Northeast Mississippi unbeaten teams.
“We played like the field – sloppy,” said Drewry, whose Blue Devils had not played in more than two weeks because of an open date and last Friday’s weather postponement. “It showed, but we were able to put enough on the board.”
There was nothing sloppy about the effort of the Booneville defense. Focusing on Walnut back Shaquille Perry, the Devils only allowed Perry a 62-yard burst in the first quarter, eventually limiting him to 50 yards on the ground and a lone fourth-quarter touchdown.
“Their defensive line did a good job,” said Walnut coach Timmy Moore, whose Wildcats (4-1) suffered their first loss of the season. “We popped one run early, but other than that, they controlled the line.”
Booneville (5-0) shook up the Wildcats on the very first kick of the evening. Junior Brendon Pannell gathered in the opening kickoff, hit a seam, and burst through the Walnut coverage for an 85-yard touchdown.
Walnut’s second possession was when Perry reeled off his 62-yard run. He was caught from behind at the Booneville 6. The Wildcats lost yardage on two runs, and had two incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.
Meanwhile Booneville was mis-firing with its passing game, causing Drewry to be concerned.
Eventually, quarterback Jerion Jones found the range in the second quarter. The senior hit Tre Welch for a 47-yard scoring catch and run to give Booneville a 12-0 halftime lead.
The Devils mixed in a few more running plays in the second half, with back Bo Brown taking advantage of the touches.
In the third quarter, Brown scored on a 28-yard burst off tackle. And in the fourth period, Brown scored on a 14-yard effort that saw him reverse his field from the right to the left.
Walnut’s lone score came after a Booneville fumble later in the fourth quarter. On the second play of that possession, Perry turned the left corner for a 12-yard TD run.
“Our defense played good all night long,” Drewry said. “I was happy with our gang tackling.”
Jones did pace the Booneville offense with 210 yards passing, while Brown added 115 yards on the ground.

David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal